Laser ablation, sometimes called laser interstitial thermal therapy, for the treatment of epilepsy is a less invasive and typically safer and more accurate approach than traditional surgery. Doctors use a carefully guided laser to precisely target the damaged areas of the brain that cause epilepsy.
During the Procedure
During laser ablation, you’ll be asleep and monitored by an anesthesiologist as doctors obtain high-resolution MRI images of your brain. Using specialized software, neurosurgeons are able to locate a pathway to the targeted tissue to conduct treatment.
Through a small incision in the skull, a fiberoptic catheter is placed directly into the targeted tissue. It’s then connected to a laser that ablates – or removes – the area responsible for seizures.
You'll be monitored in the hospital after the procedure. Patients are usually allowed to go home in a day or two if there are no persistent side effects. Recovery is typically brief, requiring only a few days of rest away from work, and most people return to full activity within a few weeks.
While laser ablation is a much less invasive option that traditional surgeries, it doesn’t mean it’s without risks. You may experience side effects, such as:
- Cognitive changes from accidental treatment of functional tissue.
- Continued symptoms if the treatment missed some of the seizure-creating tissue.
- Headache, nausea or more serious side effects.