Have you been suffering from uncontrolled or severe epilepsy seizures? Or are you dealing with a brain tumor that needs to be removed? If so, you are likely exploring all of your epilepsy surgery and brain tumor surgery options. Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) offers a minimally invasive surgical option for certain types of epilepsy and brain tumors. Also known as laser ablation, LITT surgery uses MRI to guide a small probe to deliver laser heat to destroy (ablate) the troublesome area of the brain.
Specially trained in minimally invasive surgery, Neurosurgery One’s neurosurgeons are expert in laser ablation surgery for epilepsy and brain tumors. We use and evidence-based approach to make the best recommendations to treat your epilepsy or brain tumor. Should laser ablation surgery be the best approach, we make sure you understand the risks and benefits as well as any alternative treatment options.
At Neuorsurgergy One, we use the latest advancements in technology for LITT, the NeuroBlate®System, a minimally invasive robotically controlled laser thermotherapy. The laser heat has been shown to be effective in destroying small areas of the brain like a brain tumor, lesion, or foci, which is the area causing the seizures.
FAQs About Laser Ablation
Continue reading below to learn more about laser ablation for epilepsy and LITT surgery for brain tumors, or click on one of these links to go directly to the information you are interested in:
Conditions We Treat
How does laser ablation work?
Laser ablation uses laser heat to destroy a targeted area. There are several types of laser thermal ablation systems. At Neurosurgery One, our experts neurosurgeons use the NeuroBlate® System, which is a minimally invasive robotically controlled Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) system. By using MRI guided laser light, the NeuroBlate® System ablates (destroys) the lesion, tumor, or foci of the brain causing seizures.
Am I a candidate for laser ablation?
Laser ablation, or LITT, might be viable epilepsy treatment option for you if you have one of the following types of epilepsy:
- Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Other epilepsy surgery options like brain resections carry higher rates of side effects like memory decline than LITT.
- Dominant-side temporal lobe epilepsy
- Seizures caused by lesions, such as a blood vessel or small brain malformation or hypothalamic hamartoma
For brain tumor patients, research shows that LITT may be viable for patients with deep seated or hard-to-access brain lesions that make a craniotomy ineffective or impossible. Also, patients who are not candidates for open surgery may benefit from LITT surgery.
To quality for LITT, you must also be a surgical candidate, be in general good health, and be able to undergo MRI exposure. The NeuoroBlate System technology is not appropriate for every brain lesion type, including large, irregular lesions and other lesions based on their location.
Mental health issues are often a result of dealing with uncontrolled seizures or socioeconomic issues caused by seizures and do not disqualify you from surgery.
What are the benefits and risks of LITT?
LITT for epilepsy patients is highly effective, with patients experiencing up to 60 percent seizure freedom.
New research shows that brain tumor patients that underwent laser ablation with NeuorBlate reported higher than anticipated overall survival after 12 months and hospital usage that was better than patients who underwent craniotomy.
Because laser ablation is minimally invasive, recovery time is faster, as compared to more invasive epilepsy and brain tumor surgery options. When compared to craniotomy and brain resections surgeries, LITT typically results in less pain, fewer complications, and shorter hospital stays.
Similar to other minimally invasive procedures, patients generally have minor discomfort after the procedure, experience shorter recovery times and only spend a day or two in the hospital after the procedure, and go home with only 1-2 stitches.
Compared to brain resection surgery, LITT epilepsy patients may have a slightly higher chance of seizure recurrence. Yet, the side effects of LITT are less severe, particularly when seizures originate from parts of the brain that are difficult to access or remove.
Side effects of LITT can include swelling and headaches, which are often controlled with medication. Even though LITT is minimally invasive, it is considered brain surgery and carries risk of possible adverse events, which may include hematoma, embolic events, edema, nerve damage, vision impairments, brain bleeding, unintended major tissue damage, and permanent neurological deficits.
What should I consider before choosing laser ablation for my epilepsy or brain tumor?
Should you and your neurosurgeon determine that laser ablation might be a viable option for your epilepsy or brain tumor, you should carefully consider the benefits and risks. Because LITT is minimally invasive, you will likely have a shorter recovery time and minor discomfort. However, unlike other epilepsy surgery options like RNS, VNS, and DBS, ablation surgery is not reversible.
What is recovery like following laser thermal ablation?
Because laser ablation is minimally invasive and has pinpoint accuracy, recovery time is reduced, as compared to more invasive surgical options. Patients typically have minimal discomfort after the procedure and only spend 1-2 days in the hospital after the procedure.