Hai Sun, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Director of Epilepsy Surgery & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience
Born in China, Dr. Sun came to the U.S. in 1994 and enrolled at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland. He then went on to obtain a combined MD-PhD degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. His PhD is in biomedical engineering, and his PhD research sparked his interested in neurosurgery. He completed his neurosurgery residency at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. He then completed fellowship training in Epilepsy Surgery at University of Washington in Seattle and in Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Surgery at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological disorders affecting 1% of the population by age 20 and 3% of the population by age 75. Epilepsy is caused by genetic, congenital, or developmental conditions that are more common among younger people, while those caused by trauma, brain tumors and strokes are more likely in older people. The mainstay treatment of epilepsy is anticonvulsant medications, possibly for a person's entire life. About 30% of people, however, continue to have seizures despite anticonvulsant treatment and become medically intractable. Among this group of patients, some may benefit from surgical treatments of epilepsy, which is the area of neurosurgery Dr. Sun hopes to expand.
Dr. Sun said that the goal of epilepsy surgery aims to reduce the seizure frequency and help patients achieve seizure freedom. Types of epilepsy surgery are diverse, and they include the resection of epilepsy focus, the disconnection of abnormal neuronal circuits, and placement stimulation electrodes to modulate the electrical activities in the brain. The field of epilepsy surgery has evolved considerably and continues to evolve with advancement of technology and our understanding of the brain. New procedures, some of them with a minimally invasive approach, are becoming available for patients with medical intractable seizures.
One of the challenges of epilepsy surgery is finding the right patient for the right procedure. A comprehensive epilepsy treatment program requires an interdisciplinary team including neurosurgeons, neurologists/epileptologists, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists, social workers, and nurses and technicians knowledgeable with intra- or extra-cranial recordings. Dr. Sun is currently working on setting up a monthly epilepsy conference where all experts can review patient cases and make recommendations on potential treatments. Such a forum is an indispensible part of a comprehensive epilepsy treatment program.
Dr. Sun believes the most exciting element of epilepsy surgery is that research supports the procedures. Various studies, including randomized control trials, have shown that surgical interventions are far more efficacious in rendering patients’ seizure freedom than anticonvulsant medications when they are performed in right patients. With the prevalence of epilepsy, many patients in this region will benefit from these treatment options.
In addition to epilepsy surgery, Dr. Sun also treats patients with cerebrovascular disorders, carotid stenosis, brain tumors, and spinal disorders.
To make an appointment with Dr. Sun, please call 318-795-2638