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Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

What You Need to Know About Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

  • Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LiTT) is a minimally invasive surgery for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, which involves seizures that don’t respond to medication.

  • LiTT may be appropriate for some people with focal seizures, which are seizures coming from one region of the brain.

  • The treatment uses heat to target and ablate (remove) the region where the seizures begin.

  • Compared to those who undergo traditional open surgery for epilepsy, which often involves a craniotomy (surgical cutting of the skull), people who have LiTT often experience less pain after surgery and have a faster recovery period. 

What is laser interstitial thermal therapy?

Laser interstitial thermal therapy is a minimally invasive surgical option for people with drug-resistant epilepsy, primary those with focal epilepsy, which means seizures originating in one part of the brain.

The procedure may be helpful in reducing surgical risks associated with traditional open epilepsy surgery, particularly postoperative pain, long recovery periods and cognitive problems after surgery.

How will I know if I am a candidate for LiTT? 

The surgical team, which may include epileptologists, neurosurgeons and neuropsychologists, will request and review all medical records and tests, especially EEGs, brain images and neuropsychological tests. The doctors may recommend further lab work and imaging to determine if someone is a good candidate for LiTT. 

During the Procedure

While the person is asleep under anesthesia, the surgeon drills a small hole in the skull at the back of the head.

Using MRI for guidance, the surgeon navigates a laser wire toward the area in the person’s brain that is the source of the seizures. Once the wire is in place, heat is used to destroy the region. The surgeon then removes the wire and seals the incision with a stitch or two.

After the Procedure

After LiTT, most people can go home and return to work and normal activities in a much shorter time than after craniotomy.

More information about epilepsy and its treatment in the Health Library

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