Neuroscience center of excellence in Denver

Swedish Medical Center ranks among the nation’s top neuroscience programs, serving as a leader in the field of neurology and neurosciences and the treatment of stroke. Our program combines state-of-the-art technology with an outstanding team who have extensive experience and expertise in treating nearly all forms of neurological disease.

We know facing the diagnosis of a complicated neurological disorder can be overwhelming. We also know the most effective treatment must not only address the illness, but also the individual as well. You’ll find our approach centers on caring for you as a person, not just treating the disease.

Our Physicians

Features and benefits of our neuroscience center

  • 25 neuro-related clinical studies
  • Stroke telemedicine services
  • Critical care and neuroscience-certified nurses and nurse practitioners
  • Gamma Knife® non-invasive procedures
  • 24/7 team availability for stroke treatments
  • O-Arm™ Imaging Resource to help our surgeons excel in the OR
  • Specialized palliative care services

Neurological disorders we treat

Our team of highly specialized neurosurgeons, neurologists and interventional neuroradiologists are available 24/7 to treat patients with neurological conditions, such as:

  • Acute hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke
  • Aneurysms and vascular disease
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors
  • Neurotrauma/brain and spinal cord injury
  • Seizures
  • Arterial venous malformations (AVMs)

Cerebral aneurysms

A cerebral aneurysm occurs when the wall of a blood vessel in the brain becomes weakened and enlarges. This puts pressure on the nerves and brain tissue. If the blood vessel becomes so weak it bursts, a hemorrhagic stroke, brain damage, coma or death may occur.

Symptoms of cerebral aneurysms can show as:

  • Single-side face paralysis
  • Dilated pupil in the eye
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Pain above and behind the eye

Carotid artery disease (stenosis)

Carotid arteries are the blood vessels that bring blood to the brain and head. When one of these arteries becomes narrowed due to a buildup of plaque, carotid artery disease occurs. This disease can progress without symptoms, but puts patients at an increased risk for stroke. A warning sign may include a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a mini-stroke. TIA symptoms are the same as a stroke, and as such, immediate medical treatment is necessary.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

Swedish's stereotactic radiosurgery is often called "knifeless" brain surgery and often provides the best treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia and certain types of brain tumors.

Stereotactic radiosurgery delivers doses of pinpointed radiation to treat brain tumors and other neurological disease with minimal damage to normal brain tissue.

Non-invasive stereotactic radiosurgery treatments are completed in a matter of hours as an outpatient procedure. Patients at Swedish generally go home in as soon as four hours and resume normal activities within a few days.

Benefits of stereotactic radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery boasts a multitude of benefits for patients:

  • Safe, accurate, reliable and non-invasive outpatient procedure.
  • Patients experience virtually no pain, discomfort or side effects.
  • Patients are usually discharged within 12 hours, reducing the cost of treatment compared to traditional brain surgery.
  • Patients usually return to preoperative lifestyle the day following the procedure.
  • Covered by Medicare and most insurance providers.

Swedish currently has the newest model of the Leksell Gamma Knife® Icon™, the most trusted radiosurgery product in the world with proven results documented in more than 2,000 peer-reviewed published papers.

Conditions we treat with stereotactic radiosurgery

Swedish’s stereotactic radiosurgery is used most often to treat intracranial tumors, including arteriovenous malformations (AVM), vestibular schwannomas, meningiomas, pituitary tumors and brain metastases. It is also used for vascular treatments, and research is being conducted on other possible uses, such as treating epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, trigeminal neuralgia and uveal melanoma.

Trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic and sometimes debilitating condition affecting one of the three branches of the trigeminal nerve in the head. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the face. When one becomes irritated, which may happen for instance when a blood vessel presses on the nerve, the person experiences excruciating pain in all or part of their face. A simple physical motion, such as applying makeup or brushing teeth, can cause and trigger this excruciating pain.

The three branches of the trigeminal nerve in the head where you might feel pain are:

  • The mandibular nerve, which controls the lower jaw
  • The maxillary nerve, which controls the cheeks, nasal cavity, lower sinuses, palate and upper jaw
  • The ophthalmic nerve, which controls the eyes, upper sinuses, forehead and scalp

Advanced treatment of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries

When a brain or spinal cord injury occurs, time is critical. As a Level 1 Trauma Center, Swedish’s team of specialists are on call 24/7 to provide immediate care to patients from the moment they arrive through outpatient care and rehabilitation.

Along with our own special care units, Swedish partners with two nearby rehabilitation facilities to provide additional specialized care:

  • Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital, located in Aurora, is part of the HealthONE system along with Swedish. Spalding specializes in neurologically injured patients, including those experiencing stroke, traumatic brain injury and other related conditions.
  • Craig Hospital, an international leader in rehabilitation of brain and spinal cord injuries, is located adjacent to Swedish Medical Center.

Traumatic brain injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs from sudden trauma that causes damage in the brain and can range from mild to severe. Examples of situations that can result in a TBI include:

  • Falling and hitting your head
  • Violence (gunshots, domestic abuse or child abuse)
  • Vehicle or bicycle accident
  • Sports injuries
  • Combat injuries

Spinal cord injury

Spinal cord injuries generally happen when a trauma causes vertebrae to dislocate or become fractured, interrupting the communication that travels along the spine between the brain and the rest of the body.

Epilepsy

Swedish offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment capabilities for seizure disorders. Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes interrupted, causing unpredictable, recurring seizures, periods of odd behavior or, at times, a loss of consciousness.

Our team uses leading-edge technology and equipment in the care of our patients. These advanced resources include:

  • Pre-surgical evaluation/diagnostic testing
  • Long-term epilepsy monitoring unit
  • Ambulatory EEG monitoring

Neuromuscular and nerve disorders

Our multi-disciplinary team provides care for patients affected by neuromuscular disorders. Whether inherited or caused by a spontaneous gene mutation, these diseases cause muscle weakness or fatigue that gets worse as time goes on. We treat:

  • ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myopathy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy

Our Denver neurologists and neurological surgeons utilize leading-edge diagnostic equipment and treatment procedures to treat neuromuscular and nerve disorders. Some of the diagnostic tests we conduct include nerve biopsies, muscle biopsies, neuroradiology tests, electromyography and nerve conduction studies. Additionally, our department is capable of performing epidural blood patches to close spinal fluid leaks, epidural steroid injections to relieve pain or numbness, thymectomies as well as other neurological treatments. Dietary counseling is also available as part of our treatment plans.

Deep brain stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical treatment to help treat debilitating neurological conditions. DBS uses a “brain pacemaker” that sends electrical signals to help regular the symptoms of cognitive and movement disorders. A small pacemaker-like device is surgically placed in the chest area. Through small wires placed under the skin, it sends signals to electrodes that are placed in the brain. These signals help disrupt or stop the messages sent to the brain that produce shaking, difficulty moving and related movement impairments and abnormalities.

Our interdisciplinary team provides our patients with specialized care. Together, these experienced professionals provide the most comprehensive evaluation and treatment options available.

What conditions does DBS treat

DBS uses minimally invasive, non-destructive and reversible techniques to help patients with movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonias (involuntary muscle contractions).

Who is a candidate for DBS?

  • He/she has a movement disorder with symptoms affecting quality of life
  • He/she is dissatisfied with their current treatment plan of their disorder and is looking for a new treatment option
  • He/she has undergone a reasonable course of medications to control symptoms without satisfactory results (not controlled by medication or intolerable side effects)

How effective is DBS?

DBS can be highly effective when used on the right candidate. Benefits can last for several years and, on average, patients see a 50 percent improvement in mobility and balance. It also has been shown to reduce 80 percent of symptoms for patients who have involuntary movements due to medications.

Call our team at (866) 779-3347 for a physician referral or more information.