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LITT (Thermal Ablation)

July 23, 2019 | By |

Thermal ablation is also called laser interstitial thermal therapy or LITT procedure. It is a less invasive surgery option for some people with epilepsy. LITT uses laser technology to deliver a set amount of energy to a specific brain region. The laser energy changes into thermal energy and can remove or destroy the brain cells causing the seizures (commonly called seizure focus).

Who are candidates for thermal ablation surgery?

Epilepsy affects more than 3.4 million people in the U.S., and 1 of every 3 three people with epilepsy has seizures that do not respond to seizure medication. This is called “drug-resistant” epilepsy and refers to when seizures are not controlled after at least two seizure medicines have been tried.

When a person fails medication management, the next step is to see if surgery is possible. A surgical evaluation tries to find the seizure focus and assess whether it can be removed by surgery.

Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is the most common type of focal or partial epilepsy and can be treated surgically. It accounts for 17% to 31% of all surgical procedures done for epilepsy. Until recent years, open surgery with a craniotomy was done for MTLE. Yet, the less invasive thermal ablation surgery has become a good option for people with MTLE that does not respond to seizure medicines.

Thermal ablation can be done in any part of the brain, theoretically. However, most experience is in the temporal lobe.

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