In a Victorian-first, The Alfred can now use a revolutionary technology to best treat patients with epilepsy and brain tumors, thanks to the generosity of donors.

Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) allows our neurosurgeons to treat epilepsy and brain tumors using a minimally invasive method.

It works by inserting a laser catheter into the brain and precisely guiding it with MRI to provide targeted heat to destroy lesions that were once untreatable.

This breakthrough offers new hope and possibilities, completely transforming the lives of people who have often suffered without hope for many years.

Alfred Brain Program Director Professor Terry O’Brien said LITT was now “first-line therapy in the leading epilepsy surgery and brain tumor treatment centers in the US and Europe”.

“It is less invasive, with shorter length of stay and quicker post-operative recovery, as well as reduced risk of postoperative neurological morbidity,” he said.

Dr Matthew Gutman led the push for LITT at The Alfred, which is the first hospital in Victoria and second in Australia to offer the technology.

“As the Lead of Epilepsy Surgery at The Alfred, I felt responsible for ensuring that Australian patients had access to this technique,” he said.

“I have seen firsthand how effective LITT is for patients during my time working at Great Ormond St Hospital in London and we now have well over 10 years of strong clinical data from north America and Europe with this technique.

“It enables us to treat pathology that is not safely accessible with open surgery via a minimally invasive laser used under direct MRI guidance.”

Not only does the technology enable surgeons to cure epilepsy and treat brain tumors without a traditional craniotomy, but they can now access and treat previously inaccessible parts of the brain.

“With the expertise of our comprehensive epilepsy program and having personally just completed a Churchill Fellowship in north America to develop further experience with the technique, we are uniquely positioned as an Australian center to select the ideal patients and safely perform this procedure,” Dr Gutman said.

“Our comprehensive epilepsy program can now offer a number of interventions to treat and cure epilepsy which were not available in Australia even a few years ago.”

Fundraising towards the Lifesaving Equipment Fund was “essential” in allowing The Alfred to start offering LITT at The Alfred, according to Prof O’Brien.

“It funded more than half of the new equipment required for this. Without these donations, we would have not been able to implement LITT here at this time,” he said.

“This is further evidence of Alfred Brain as the leading center in Australia for the adoption of innovative new treatments to better treat patients with serious disease of the nervous system.”

The team at The Alfred will share its LITT experience and will offer Fellows from across Australia to train and develop their abilities with this technology.