A Primer on Magnetic Resonance-Guided Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy for Medically Refractory Epilepsy

J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2019 May;62(3):353-360. doi: 10.3340/jkns.2019.0105. Epub 2019 May 1.


Epilepsy surgery that eliminates the epileptogenic focus or disconnects the epileptic network has the potential to significantly improve seizure control in patients with medically intractable epilepsy. Magnetic resonance-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (MRgLITT) has been an established option for epilepsy surgery since the US Food and Drug Administration cleared the use of MRgLITT in neurosurgery in 2007. MRgLITT is an ablative stereotactic procedure utilizing heat that is converted from laser energy, and the temperature of the tissue is monitored in real-time by MR thermography. Real-time quantitative thermal monitoring enables titration of laser energy for cellular injury, and it also estimates the extent of tissue damage. MRgLITT is applicable for lesion ablation in cases that the epileptogenic foci are localized and/or deep-seated such as in the mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and hypothalamic hamartoma. Seizure-free outcomes after MRgLITT are comparable to those of open surgery in well-selected patients such as those with mesial temporal sclerosis. Particularly in patients with hypothalamic hamartoma. In addition, MRgLITT can also be applied to ablate multiple discrete lesions of focal cortical dysplasia and tuberous sclerosis complex without the need for multiple craniotomies, as well as disconnection surgery such as corpus callosotomy. Careful planning of the target, the optimal trajectory of the laser probe, and the appropriate parameters for energy delivery are paramount to improve the seizure outcome and to reduce the complication caused by the thermal damage to the surrounding critical structures.

Keywords: Anterior temporal lobectomy; Drug resistant epilepsy; Epilepsy, Temporal lobe; Hypothalamic hamartomas; Laser therapy.