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MRI-Guided Laser Procedure Better Alternative To Epilepsy Surgery

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 08:13 AM EDT

For patients suffering with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), that cant be treated with medications, a minimally invasive laser procedure performed under MRI guidance provides a safe and effective alternative to surgery, according to a new study. 

"Real-time magnetic resonance-guided stereotactic laser amygdalohippocampotomy (SLAH) is a technically novel, safe and effective alternative to open surgery," according to the new research by Dr. Robert E. Gross of Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues.

As subjects, researchers chose 13 adult patients with epilepsy mapped to a part of the brain called the mesial temporal lobe. The patients, median age 24 years, had "intractable" seizures despite treatment with anti-epileptic drugs, the press release said.   

Researchers performed MRI-guided SLAH and found that on average 60 percent of the amygdalohippocampal complex was destroyed in the procedure. Further the median time spent in the hospital was just one day, compared to a normal two to five-day stay after conventional temporal lobe surgery. 

The SLAH patients also did not have to be admitted to the intensive care unit. 

"Such minimally invasive techniques may be more desirable to patients and result in increased use of epilepsy surgery among the large number of medically intractable epilepsy patients," Dr. Gross and colleagues conclude. They note that a larger, longer-term study of SLAH is underway, including assessment of the effects on cognitive function as well as seizures.

The study is published in the June issue of Neurosurgery.

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