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Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) at UCLA
What is laser interstitial thermal therapy?
LITT is a minimally invasive surgical option that in selected patients can offer a cure for seizures that fail to respond to medical therapy. It involves making a tiny skin incision and passing a laser fiber directly into the center of the lesion causing the epilepsy. To ensure extreme precision, this is done under 3-D GPS navigation.
After confirming that the epileptic activity is arising from the lesion, heat energy is transferred to the tissue to fully destroy (remove) this area while protecting the surrounding healthy tissues of the brain. Following this procedure, the laser fiber is removed and a single absorbable stich is placed in the scalp.
Patients are typically sent home the following day with minimal to no pain. Regular activities can be resumed almost right away following the procedure. Given that this is extremely well tolerated, this may be a good alternative to standard open surgery when it is an option.
Who is a good candidate for LITT?
Seizures arising from small and deep structures of the brain are the best candidates for LITT therapy. The prototype lesion for this procedure is a hypothalamic hamartoma, which is usually a small lesion that sits in one of the deepest areas of the brain.
In this scenario, epilepsy can be cured in about 80% of patients. LITT has also been utilized for temporal lobe epilepsy with more modest success rates.