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“Game-changing” new laser beam therapy will help to reduce seizures in some patients with epilepsy

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Mandy Ryan

“Game-changing” new laser beam therapy will help to reduce seizures in some patients with epilepsy

The NHS will roll out world-leading laser beam therapy to help reduce seizures in a small number of people with drug-resistant epilepsy from next month.

Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) targets the part of the brain causing seizures without the need for invasive surgery. It will be offered to around 50 patients a year with drug-resistant epilepsy, and delivered at London’s King’s College Hospital and the Walton Centre in Liverpool.

LITT involves inserting a 1.5mm probe with a laser tip through a tiny hole in the skull. The surgical team use MRI scanning to navigate through the brain, and the laser reaches and destroys the epilepsy-causing brain tissue by heating it from the inside.

James Palmer, NHS England’s Medical Director for Specialised Services and a Consultant Neurosurgeon, said: “This laser beam therapy is game-changing for patients and will offer new hope on the NHS to those for whom standard drugs are not effective in controlling their seizures.

“Not only will this world-leading technology help replace invasive surgery for patients, which can take months to recover from, it will also allow clinicians to better target the parts of the brain causing the epilepsy, which dramatically reduces the risks and helps cut patients’ recovery time both in and out of hospital.”

The MRI technology for navigating through the brain to reach the affected tissue was developed at the Epilepsy Society’s Chalfont Centre. Professor Ley Sander, our Director of Medical Services, said: “This non-invasive form of neurosurgery could be groundbreaking for some people with brain lesions whose seizures do not respond to conventional treatment options, including more invasive epilepsy surgery.

“It will make surgery safer and faster and dramatically cut the recovery period for individuals. We are particularly proud that the sophisticated navigation system which guides this pioneering surgery was developed at the Epilepsy Society’s MRI unit.

“This enables the surgical team to navigate safely to the exact area of the brain that is affected, avoiding blood vessels and critical structures. This is a great advance in epilepsy surgery as a treatment option for lesional epilepsy.”



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