Meet Dr. Louis (Tony) Whitworth
Louis (Tony) Whitworth, M.D., is an expert in the cutting-edge subspecialty of stereotactic and functional neurosurgery (SFN), a group of minimally invasive techniques for treating brain and spinal-cord disorders. In these diseases, such as movement disorders, chronic pain, and depression, the patient’s ability to function is altered, yet there may not be an obvious abnormality in the brain or spinal cord that surgeons can fix.
So SFN offers innovations such as the implantation of brain electrodes, focused chemical treatment of problem areas, and bursts of radiation with gamma-knife and CyberKnife radiosurgery. Neurosurgeons using SFN can help relieve symptoms of many neurological and psychiatric disorders that were previously untreatable with surgery, offering sufferers relief and hope.
I work in collaboration with other specialists, including neurologists, psychiatrists, and radiation oncologists. The fact that we have experts in other fields working with us really improves outcomes and patient safety."
"Unlike in traditional neurosurgery, which is aimed at repairing damaged structures or removing tumors or foreign bodies, functional neurosurgery focuses on restoring the function of the nervous system," Dr. Whitworth says. As Associate Professor in the Departments of Neurological Surgery and Radiation Oncology, he has been treating patients here and teaching other neurosurgeons about SFN since 2003.
One of the most remarkable forms of SFN is deep-brain stimulation (DBS), in which an electrode is placed deep in the brain to release minute amounts of electricity and interrupt abnormal brain signals. Patients who benefit include those with Parkinson’s disease, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and epilepsy. Some DBS devices can read brain waves and respond in real time, just like internal defibrillators for the heart. This innovation is called responsive neurostimulation. "Similar to shocking an abnormal heart rate, you’re shocking an abnormal brain rhythm," Dr. Whitworth explains.
Dr. Whitworth is proud of the multidisciplinary nature of his work: To deliver the best possible care, he works with specialists from many departments. "It's a team-of-experts approach," he says, "not a one-man show."
- Parkinson’s disease
- Essential tremor
Psychiatric Disorders Amenable to Neurosurgery
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Functional neurosurgery
- Stereotactic neurosurgery
- Deep-brain stimulation
- Psychiatric neurosurgery
- Gamma Knife