Providing Expert Care for Patients with Stroke, Epilepsy, MS, or Parkinson’s
From diagnosis to recovery, Littleton Adventist Hospital’s Neurosciences Center provides comprehensive treatment and advanced technology to care for patients with a wide variety of brain, nerve, and spine conditions. Every year, we treat more than 1,000 patients for neurological conditions, making us one of the largest neuroscience programs in the region. We are a Comprehensive Stroke Center, which designates us as providing the highest level of stroke care available. Our hospital also includes a specialized neurological critical care unit and neurorehabilitation to help patients recover as much function as possible.
Our neuroscience program is noted for its comprehensive Level 3 adult epilepsy program featuring an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and minimally invasive epilepsy surgery. We also one of the nation’s leading programs in robotic-guided deep brain stimulation performed with the patient asleep, a renowned trigeminal neuralgia surgery program, a comprehensive spine surgery center, and much more.
While dozens of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, and other clinical neuroscience specialists work together to provide your care, we have carefully designed our program so patients are not overwhelmed. Our neuroscience nurse navigators are by your side to help answer questions, obtain any needed testing, schedule appointments and bring you peace of mind.
Comprehensive stroke center
Littleton Adventist Hospital’s stroke program is a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center. This designation reflects our commitment to providing patients with expert diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and patient education. The Comprehensive Stroke Center designation is only awarded to hospitals that have unique capabilities to treat the most complex stroke cases.
Our Comprehensive Stroke Center provides:
- 24/7 stroke care: Neurologists and neurosurgeons are available 24/7 for stroke alerts and life-saving interventional and surgical procedures.
- Rapid Response: Emergency room nurses, specially trained in rapid response stroke protocols, work closely with EMS teams to assure the fastest possible treatment that starts while you or your loved one are being transported to the hospital.
- Specialized Intensive Care: We feature a separate neurosciences intensive care unit staffed by registered nurses who are trained in the assessment and care of patients who have had a stroke.
- Acute Stroke Rehabilitation: Stroke rehabilitation is one of the most vital phases of recovery for many stroke survivors. Our neuroscience center features an acute stroke rehabilitation program, providing customized treatment plans combining physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy to give patients the strengths and skills they need to return to their highest level of function.
- Support System: Case managers are available to assist families with decision making, rehabilitation placement options, insurance questions, and transportation. Chaplains are also available to help provide spiritual and emotional support for families and patients.
Adult epilepsy program
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological condition, affecting more than 65 million people worldwide. While epilepsy is commonly associated with children, it can occur at any point in life. After age 55, the rate of new cases of epilepsy starts to increase, as people develop strokes, brain tumors, brain injuries, or Alzheimer's disease, which all can cause epilepsy.
Littleton Adventist Hospital has developed a comprehensive program for those 17 and older with epilepsy. The hospital is a designated Level 3 Epilepsy Center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Level 3 Epilepsy Centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide medical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy. Our multidisciplinary epilepsy team includes epileptologists, neuroscience nurses, EEG technologists, a neuroscience educator, neuropsychologists, neurosurgeons, case managers, and social workers.
The Littleton Adventist Hospital epilepsy program includes:
- Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU): The EMU is designed for patients 17 and older who need prolonged inpatient video electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring. In the EMU, the medical team can safely activate seizure activity by removing anti-epileptic drugs in a controlled environment to provide an accurate diagnosis. The EMU is physically located within the ICU, so patients are closely monitored by nursing staff and have immediate access to acute care when seizures do occur. Using the EMU, our epilepsy experts can make a definitive diagnosis in 88% of cases. The EMU findings also influence treatment in as many as 80% of these cases.
- Medical Management: Most people with epilepsy can become seizure-free by taking anti-seizure medication, also called anti-epileptic medication. But finding the right medication or combination of medications is complex. Littleton Adventist Hospital epileptologists, neurologists who specialize in treating patients with epilepsy, are experienced in this process and can help you through this process. Once we have a definitive diagnosis of epilepsy, your Littleton epileptologist will consider the type and frequency of seizures, your age, your overall health and any other medications you might be taking and other factors to determine which medications to try. If medication doesn’t provide satisfactory control of your seizures or causes unwanted side effects, your doctor may suggest surgery.
- Epilepsy Surgery: The expert neurosurgeons at Littleton Adventist Hospital offer all types of epilepsy surgery, including minimally invasive procedures such as the new Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) that uses laser energy to destroy tiny amounts of brain tissue that initiate a person’s seizures. In addition to LITT, Littleton neurosurgeons offer responsive neurostimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, deep brain stimulation, and traditional resection. Our neurosurgeons offer this range of surgeries to ensure that each patient is provided with the procedure that is most appropriate for their type of epilepsy, health history, and lifestyle goals. Almost every adult with epilepsy whose seizures are not being controlled by medication to the level they desire is a candidate for epilepsy surgery.
The Neuroscience Center at Littleton Adventist Hospital features cancer experts who diagnose and treat a wide variety of malignant or benign brain tumors, skull base tumors, as well as spinal and pituitary tumors. Our neuro-oncology team uses the most advanced brain cancer treatments available today, including precision medicines like immunotherapy and minimally invasive brain surgery. If you need hospitalization after surgery, you will be cared for in our special neurosurgery critical care unit staffed by nurses specially trained in neurological conditions or those recovering from neurosurgery.
The most common benign, or non-cancerous, tumor that we treat is meningiomas, which make up the majority of all brain tumors. These tumors arise from cells in the meninges, which is the lining of the brain and spinal cord. We also diagnose and treat malignant, or cancerous, tumors of the brain, head, base of the skull, pituitary gland, and spine. These tumors can be primary, which means the tumor started in the brain. Or they can be metastases, which means that cancer cells from somewhere else in the body have spread to the brain. Metastatic brain cancer is often referred to as “mets.” The most common cancerous primary brain tumor is called glioblastoma.
Our neuro-oncology team includes medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, nurse practitioners, and nurse navigators. This team reviews patient cases and form a customized treatment plan for you or your loved one. In addition to standard chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, Littleton Adventist Hospital’s neuro-oncology team can offer you these innovative treatments for brain tumors:
- Immunotherapy and targeted therapy: Our medical oncologists remain on the forefront of advancements in specialized types of medicines that treat cancer. They offer the latest in FDA-approved immunotherapy drugs, which use your body’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. They also offer targeted therapy, which is a type of chemotherapy but instead of killing all cells, it only destroys cancer cells that contain specific genetic characteristics.
- Awake Craniotomies: Craniotomies, or brain surgery, is performed to remove the tumor from the brain. Littleton features one of the few neurosurgeons in the region who is specially trained in performing this type of surgery with the patient awake. While this might sound scary, it is a technique that helps the neurosurgeon protect critical functions when they are removing tumors that sit deep inside the brain.
- Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT): Littleton neurosurgeons are some of the first in Denver to offer LITT, s sometimes referred to as laser surgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses laser energy to ablate, or destroy, brain tumors. It also can be used to treat epilepsy. The neurosurgeon performs this procedure using MRI guidance to precisely guide the laser device to your tumor. The procedure is performed through a single tiny .5 cm incision in the skull that requires just one or two stitches.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: This treatment is a non-invasive procedure that uses intense beams of radiation to damage the cancer cells in brain tumors, meningiomas, and acoustic neuromas. Littleton neurosurgeons also use stereotactic radiosurgery to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a type of facial pain. Stereotactic radiosurgery can be performed using a number of different technology platforms, including the newest technology called Zap-X®, which will soon be available only in Colorado at Littleton Adventist Hospital.
Traumatic brain injuries, or concussions, occur in people of all ages. Older adults experience the highest number of concussions seen in the emergency department due most often to falling and hitting their heads. Littleton Adventist Hospital features a Level II trauma center that is highly experienced in assessing and diagnosing traumatic brain injury in patients of all ages. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a concussion, you will be treated by our concussion team which is led by a neuropsychologist. Services we provide for diagnosing and treating concussions include:
- Assessment and diagnosis in the emergency room or our outpatient concussion clinics
- Imaging to help confirm the severity of the concussion
- Personalized treatment plans that include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, as needed
- Treatment and skill training to address memory changes, mood disturbances, and learning difficulties
Deep Brain Stimulation
Littleton Adventist Hospital is a national leader in advancements in deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s, essential tremor, dystonia, epilepsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Littleton neurosurgeons helped pioneer a procedure that allows patients to remain asleep (sedated) while the DBS leads are implanted in the section of the brain that initiates and controls tremors and other Parkinson’s symptoms. Our neurosurgery unit now performs more asleep DBS procedures than most centers worldwide.
Our neurosurgeons specializing in movement disorders provide deep brain stimulation for patients from throughout the metro Denver area, Colorado, and the entire Rocky Mountain region. They have become renowned for being among the first in the country to advance new technology in DBS. Those advancements include:
- Robotic-guided deep brain stimulation: Robotic surgery provides improved accuracy of the DBS lead placement, the most important aspect of DBS. The more accurate the lead placement, the better control over symptoms of movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease.
- Directional DBS: Targeted therapy offers multiple contact points on the DBS lead, providing more options to direct stimulation to where it may be more effective immediately and over time.
- DBS Generator Programming: Our neurosurgeons have pioneered a two-step DBS procedure that means patients only need to come to the hospital twice instead of the normal three times. In addition, Littleton Adventist Hospital is one of the first sites in the United States to offer remote DBS generator programming. This capability allows our neurosurgeons to adjust the programming via a secure WiFi connection between the physician and patient programmer to better manage symptoms without requiring the patient to travel to Denver.
Littleton Adventist Hospital offers comprehensive neurology and neurosurgery care. Services include:
- Aneurysm clipping/aneurysm coiling
- Brain tumor surgery
- Craniotomy/awake craniotomy
- Deep brain stimulation, featuring robotic-guided asleep DBS
- Endovascular neurosurgery
- Epilepsy surgery, including:
- laser ablation
- responsive neurostimulation (NeuroPace)
- vagus nerve stimulation
- deep brain stimulation
- Neurodiagnostic tests, including:
- Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potential (BAEP, AEP, BAER)
- Electroencephalography (EEG)
- Electromyography (EMG)
- Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS, NCV)
- Visual Evoked Potential (VEP, VER)
- Laser ablation/Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) for brain tumors and epilepsy
- Portable treatment for glioblastoma (Optune)
- Spinal cord stimulation to manage chronic pain
- Spine surgery, including minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS)
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (Zap-X)
- Trigeminal neuralgia surgery, including:
- microvascular decompression
- percutaneous rhizotomy
- stereotactic radiosurgery
- Upper airway stimulation for obstructive sleep apnea
Conditions We Treat
- ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)
- Arterial venous malformation (AVMs)
- Brain and skull base tumor
- Carotid stenosis
- Essential tremor
- Intracranial stenosis
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Parkinson's disease
- Spine conditions
- Spine tumor
- Trigeminal neuralgia/facial pain
- Traumatic brain injury
- Vertebral stenosis
Advanced Treatment Backed by Compassionate Care
Littleton Adventist Hospital’s Neuroscience Center combines the leading-edge treatments of major medical centers across the country with the warmth and familiarity of a small community hospital.
- 1,000 patients treated annually
- 400 number of stroke alerts
- 100 deep brain stimulations performed
- 3 years accredited as Comprehensive Stroke Center
Zapping brain tumors
Littleton Neurosciences Center is the first hospital in the state to use self-shielding technology to deliver radiation in limited doses, without using radioactive sources. Stereotactic radiosurgery uses high-intensity radiation to kill brain tumor cells without harming surrounding tissue. However, most systems until now require the use of radioactive sources. Eliminating the need for radioactive sources, such as cobalt-60, significantly reduces costs while also eliminating security requirements that are necessary to protect traditional radioactive sources.
Awake brain surgery
Being awake during brain surgery might not sound very appealing, but some patients welcome this technique to reduce the risk of losing motor or cognitive function. Dr. Angela Bohnen, a neurosurgeon at Littleton Adventist Hospital fellowship trained in this procedure at Mayo Clinic, performs awake craniotomies to remove brain tumors that grow deep inside the brain and are difficult to access without risking disruption to key brain functions.
Minimally invasive epilepsy surgery
Littleton Adventist Hospital was one of the first neuroscience centers in Colorado to offer the new minimally invasive laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) to help control seizures in adults with epilepsy. LITT uses heat to target and remove the section of the brain where seizures start. Unlike traditional resection surgery, LITT doesn’t require a craniotomy, which means patients experience less pain and a faster recovery. Littleton neurosurgeons also use LITT to treat brain tumors.
More accurate deep brain stimulation
Dr. David VanSickle, a neurosurgeon at the Littleton Neurosciences Center, has been a national leader in advancing the use of Asleep DBS for patients with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia, and epilepsy. Unlike traditional DBS that requires the patient to be awake during the surgery to place implants in the brain, Asleep DBS uses a portable high-powered CT scanner in the OR to provide the surgeon with visualization of the target and allowing the patient to remain asleep. Studies have found that Asleep DBS achieves accurate placement and outcomes equal to or better than traditional DBS.
Where is the Littleton Hospital neurosciences center located?
Neuroscience services at Littleton Adventist Hospital are provided in two locations. Most patient appointments and outpatient services are provided in the Arapahoe Medical Plaza next to our hospital at 7780 S. Broadway in Littleton, Colorado. Here you will find comprehensive neuroscience services together, including neurosurgery, neurological interventional radiology, neuropsychology, and neurorehabilitation. Surgeries are performed in our hospital, which features a neurological critical care unit.
Why should I choose Littleton Hospital for my neurological care?
Our Neuroscience Center is one of the largest and most advanced neurological care programs in the region. It has some of the highest levels of certification available, including being a Comprehensive Stroke Center and a Level 3 Epilepsy Center. Yet, at the same time, we provide this care in a community hospital setting where you will cared for as a whole person.
What ages does Littleton neurology center treat?
The Littleton Adventist Hospital Neuroscience Center treats patients 17 years of age and older.
Where can I get more information about specific neurological services?
Please call the Littleton Adventist Hospital Neuroscience Program Coordinator at 303-738-2521.
How do I find a neuroscience specialist with expertise in my condition?
Providers at the Littleton Adventist Hospital Neuroscience Center include neurologists, neurosurgeons, and neuropsychologists. Within these practices, individual providers may specialize in specific neurological conditions or provide specific treatments. The schedulers at these practices will help direct you to the provider who specializes in your condition.
Does Littleton have a neuro critical care unit?
As a Level II trauma center and a Comprehensive Stroke Center, our hospital features a neurological critical care unit. This unit is staffed by in-hospital physicians and nurses who are specially trained in caring for patients who have had a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or undergone neurosurgery.
Does Littleton Hospital offer deep brain stimulation?
Littleton Adventist Hospital has one of the region’s largest neurosurgery programs offering DBS for patients with Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, essential tremor, dystonia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Our neurosurgeons perform robotic-guided deep brain stimulation surgeries with the patient asleep as well as traditional DBS. Results from robotic-guided asleep DBS are equal to or, in many cases, superior to traditional DBS performed while the patient is awake.
What is the epilepsy monitoring unit?
The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) is part of the Littleton Adventist Hospital’s Level 3 Epilepsy Center. It is a specially designed unit that allows our epilepsy specialists to safely provoke and record epilepsy seizures to help provide an accurate diagnosis of what is causing seizures.