Only three hospitals in the UK currently offer this procedure, which aims to help patients with epilepsy become seizure free.
Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust has recently performed its first procedure using technology that enables clinicians to pinpoint and destroy an area of the brain where seizures are arising from in people with epilepsy.
The procedure works by using an MRI-guided laser ablation system, and is called Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) allowing the surgeon to accurately destroy the affected tissue in real time.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures. Seizures can vary from very brief lapses of attention or muscle jerks to severe and long convulsions.
They also vary in frequency, from less than one per year to many per day. This can really impact a person’s quality of life and can cause physical problems such as fractures and bruising from seizure injuries, problems with memory and cognition, as well as psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Treatment with medicines can control epilepsy for some people but for others, surgery may be the only option.
Consultant Neurosurgeon at Alder Hey, Mr Jonathan Ellenbogen, said:
“Alder Hey is only one of two pediatric hospitals in the UK to offer this procedure, which will drastically transform the way we treat epilepsy for a lot of children and young people. It is a minimally invasive surgical alternative requiring a very small incision (just 3.3mm) compared to open surgery. Other benefits include less scarring and reducing the length of time children and young people have to spend in hospital.”
Although this may be a ground-breaking treatment for many children and young people, the treatment is only appropriate in cases where clinicians can identify the area of the brain affected by epilepsy, and if their epilepsy is not already controlled well with medication.
16 year old Nathan from Macclesfield was first diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 9 years old and is the first patient to undertake the procedure at Alder Hey.
“Epilepsy really affects my day to day life. I have seizures during the day and night so I’m always tired and miss school sometimes. I’ve just turned16 soon and the possibility that my next birthday could be seizure free is amazing. The procedure was a lot less scary than I thought; I was home just two days later.”
Mr Ellenbogen who performed the procedure on Nathan continued: “We will now monitor Nathan to see if the procedure has helped his seizures. We’re delighted to be able to offer this procedure now at Alder Hey. It can be life-changing for the children and young people who really suffer with this condition.”