Objective: Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy (LITT) using a neodymium:yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd: YAG) laser is a new therapeutic approach in the treatment of brain tumors. The purpose of our study was to determine the value of MRI in monitoring LITT.
Materials and methods: Eight patients with intracerebral tumors were treated with LITT. The light guide was inserted via an applicator sheath that was implanted stereotaxically with CT guidance. The laser irradiation was performed within the MR unit and monitored by repetitive measurements of a T1-weighted 2D-FLASH sequence.
Results: During therapy in all patients, typical changes of signal intensity were seen. A gradually increasing central zone of high signal intensity was surrounded by an increasing peripheral area of reduced signal intensity. The diameter of an enhancing rim at the outer border of the peripheral area after Gd-DTPA was considered as the total lesion size. The lesion size as determined on 2D-FLASH scans during LITT accounted for 88-100% (mean 93.5%) of total lesion size on T1-weighted images after Gd-DTPA acquired immediately after therapy. On T2-weighted images the signal intensities of the two zones were vice versa. Follow-up studies showed a decrease of total lesion size (15-87%).
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that MRI is feasible and effective in monitoring LITT. However, the role of LITT in the therapeutic workup of brain tumors still has to be defined in future clinical studies.