Laser Ablation


What is Laser Ablation?

Laser ablation (Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy, LITT) is a minimally invasive, robotic laser surgery for treating epilepsy or tumors. Using near-infrared lasers, neurosurgeons can directly target lesions deep in the brain that they believe may be causing seizures.

When a specific area(s) of the brain that is the source of seizures can be pinpointed for treatment, then laser ablation can be used to lesion that source and potentially stop seizures or reduce the frequency. It can also be curative in approximately 50% of patients who are good surgical candidates.

Laser ablation may be able to provide patients significant improvement in seizure control without the invasiveness of an open craniotomy.

Learn more about epilepsy

How It Works

What Happens During the Surgery?

First, a detailed plan is created ahead of time using scans of the patient’s brain to identify the exact location and size of the lesion(s) thought to be causing seizures. At the time of the procedure, the patient is placed under general anesthesia, and a tiny access point is drilled through the skull.

While the patient’s brain is closely monitored through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in real time, surgeons use a near-infrared laser to heat the brain tissue around the targeted lesion. The temperature and margins of the tissue being treated are precisely controlled based on MRI feedback, allowing the laser to destroy the lesion without affecting surrounding tissue.

How long is the recovery time?

While most patients will be able to go home the next day, the recovery time depends on the location and size of the area(s) of the brain being treated. Your neurosurgeon can help you set realistic expectations about recovery time based on your individual procedure plan.

Who It Helps

Who is a Good Candidate for Laser Ablation?

Laser ablation is generally considered when anti-seizure medication has been ineffective in controlling a patient’s seizure frequency.

While every case is different, laser ablation can be particularly promising when lesions believed to be causing seizures are located deep in the brain, where a more invasive surgical approach would be too high-risk.

Because laser ablation is a precisely targeted procedure, it’s a possible option only when one or more specific areas of the brain can be identified as the likely cause of seizures. Learn more about seizures

As with any surgery, there are risks, and you should talk to your neurologist about whether laser ablation may be an effective approach for you.

How Will I Be Evaluated for the Procedure?

Your doctors will first need to determine the cause of your seizures, as well as where they may originate in your brain. Diagnostic testing may include a number of different procedures, including:

  • Neurological exam
  • Blood test
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • MRI
  • SPECT test
  • WADA test/Functional MRI
  • Neuropsychological testing

If your seizures are determined to be triggered in a specific area of your brain, or lesions in your brain are identified as the cause of your seizures, your doctor may consider laser ablation as a possible treatment option.

If laser ablation is determined to be the best approach to treatment for your seizures, more MRI scans will likely be performed to help map out a detailed plan for the procedure.

Why Aurora?

We’re Leaders in Innovation

At the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute (ANII), a multidisciplinary team of world-renowned specialists and experts work together to combine proven surgical approaches with cutting-edge technologies and medical techniques.

Combined with our patient-centered approach, these capabilities create a truly best-in-class patient experience with a focus on better surgical outcomes and improved patient safety.

Our team offers comprehensive, innovative and experienced care to address a wide variety of movement disorders and offer you individualized treatment plans.

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