Golisano first hospital in the world to use cutting edge procedure on rare pediatric disease

Arianna Failla, with her mother Jennifer and Dr. Tovar-Spinova

A cutting edge and life-changing procedure is putting Upstate Golisano Childrenâ??s Hospital in the spot light. Physicians at Golisano are the first in the world to use minimally-invasive MRI-guided laser technology to treat a rare and sometimes deadly genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis.

The disease causes non-cancerous tumors to grow in organs all over the body, including the brain. The tumors cause several health problems, including often-severe seizures. In children, the tumors can prevent the brainâ??s ability to learn and grow, leading to developmental problems to go along with the seizures.

Dr. Zulma Tovar-Spinova, who is on the front line in this new application to the MRI-guided laser treatment, says that after one treatment session, you can see a noticeable difference in the behavior and cognitive functions of the patient. Dr. Tovar-Spinova and her team are the first to use this technology, which is usually used in adult patients with epilepsy, to treat tuberous sclerosis and other disorders.

The benefit, Dr. Tovar-Spinova says, is that the patient is in the hospital for a one-day procedure, and in many cases can go home the next day.

The first patient in the world to receive this treatment is two-year-old Arianna Failla, from Central Square. Arianna suffers from tuberous sclerosis and until the procedure she suffered from severe and unrelenting seizures.

When told about the treatment, Ariannaâ??s mother Jennifer Failla jumped at the chance, as she said the constant seizures and disruptive behavior were wreaking havoc on their family.

Since the procedures started, Jennifer says she has seen marked improvement in Arianna.

â??We have seen steady progress with Ariannaâ??s behavior and cognitive abilities,â?? Jennifer said. â??Iâ??m elated with the results we see in my daughter; it has not been an easy go of things, but we see a brightening of her future and that is very promising.â??

Arianna has started to talk, including arguments with her brother Anthony. Anthony, a sixth grader, says his sister is a different person. He added that she gets really mad at him, yelling â??noâ?? anytime he takes one of her toys.

Dr. Tovar-Spinova is sharing Ariannaâ??s story with the world, as medical professionals across the globe are contacting her about the procedure.

â??This procedure is one of the most exciting breakthroughs in pediatric neurosurgery the medical community has seen in years,â?? she said. â??We are seeing remarkable results for children with epilepsy and cognitive issues, and weâ??re just beginning to realize that the benefits could be far reaching for many.â??