New minimally invasive approach offers a safer and less invasive surgical treatment for epilepsy

HCA Healthcare/HealthONE's Swedish Medical Center is now offering the use of real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

This new surgical approach offers a safer and significantly less invasive alternative to craniotomy, currently the most commonly used surgery for epilepsy. Laser thermal therapy has been paradigm-shifting in epilepsy, particularly for deep brain lesions, because the MRI-guided laser probe creates a smaller corridor in the brain, reducing damage to surrounding brain tissue. As a result, patients have shorter hospital stays and fewer complications. The MRI-guided laser probe is inserted through a hole in the skull that is only 3.2 millimeters wide (about the diameter of a pen) versus the much larger bony opening required for a craniotomy. The skin is closed with a single absorbable stitch. Because it is a less invasive procedure than craniotomy, patient recovery time tends to be quicker.

The laser ablation procedure was performed this week on a patient at Swedish Medical Center, a level 4 epilepsy center in Englewood, Colorado. "We're excited to offer this minimally invasive therapy. Laser ablation we hope will provide this young patient a cure from seizures. It is just one of the comprehensive set of therapies we offer for epilepsy. Laser ablation has also shown promise for a variety of other brain disorders, including tumors and vascular malformations." said Matthew Mian, a functional neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center who performed the procedure.

The surgery is performed by inserting a laser fiber through the skull in the operating room. The patient is then transferred to an MRI unit where the ablation is performed. The MRI confirms probe placement in the target, and it also provides real-time feedback as the target tissue is heated by the laser. The system includes an automatic safety trigger to prevent damage to nearby critical brain structures.

Learn more about Swedish's nationally recognized level 4 epilepsy center.