In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers across 11 centers analyzed data on a relatively new minimally invasive alternative surgery for epilepsy, and discovered changes that could make the procedure more effective in both laser ablation and standard surgery.
“The field hasn’t had a unified approach to laser ablation surgery for epilepsy,” says corresponding author, neurosurgeon Chengyuan Wu, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) and the Vickie & Jack Farber Institute for Neuroscience – Jefferson Health. “With this study, we were able to answer the question: ‘How much ablation is enough, how much is too much, and exactly where should we be targeting?'”
The researchers, including co-first authors from the University of Miami, Jackson Memorial Hospital and Vanderbilt University analyzed the charts and images of 234 patients who underwent laser ablation therapy for epilepsy in 11 centers across the United States. During the procedure, a small laser catheter is placed under MRI-guidance in the part of the brain felt to be responsible for the patient’s epilepsy. Surgeons then deliver precise pulses of laser ablation to that particular region until the tissue is eliminated, in order to prevent further seizure. “The procedure has effects similar to open-brain surgery, which removes part of the brain,” says Dr. Wu. “But there’s significantly less trauma to the surrounding brain tissue with this approach.”