Laser interstitial thermal therapy for the treatment of insular lesions: A systematic review

Front Neurol. 2023 Jan 4:13:1024075. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.1024075. eCollection 2022.


Background: The surgical treatment of insular lesions has been historically associated with high morbidity. Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) has been increasingly used in the treatment of insular lesions, commonly neoplastic or epileptogenic. Stereotaxis is used to guide laser probes to the insula where real-time magnetic resonance thermometry defines lesion creation. There is an absence of previously published reviews on insular LITT, despite a rapid uptake in use, making further study imperative.

Methods: Here we present a systematic review of the PubMed and Scopus databases, examining the reported clinical indications, outcomes, and adverse effects of insular LITT.

Results: A review of the literature revealed 10 retrospective studies reporting on 53 patients (43 pediatric and 10 adults) that were treated with insular LITT. 87% of cases were for the treatment of epilepsy, with 89% of patients achieving seizure outcomes of Engle I-III following treatment. The other 13% of cases reported on insular tumors and radiological improvement was seen in all cases following treatment. All but one study reported adverse events following LITT with a rate of 37%. The most common adverse events were transient hemiparesis (29%) and transient aphasia (6%). One patient experienced an intracerebral hemorrhage, which required a decompressive hemicraniectomy, with subsequent full recovery.

Conclusion: This systematic review highlights the suitability of LITT for the treatment of both insular seizure foci and insular tumors. Despite the growing use of this technique, prospective studies remain absent in the literature. Future work should directly evaluate the efficacy of LITT with randomized and controlled trials.

Keywords: LITT; MRgLITT; epilepsy; glioma; insula; seizure; tumor.