How Effective is Laser Therapy for Seizures?

by ih-chi admin

There are many ways we treat epilepsy and seizures at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.

Traditional seizure medications, dispensary CBD oil, electrical stimulation through the vagus nerve, and ultimately brain surgery (if seizures continue despite these treatments) are all potential options. MRI-guided laser therapy is a form of minimally invasive surgery using a proven technology that has been around for several years and is having a moment in the spotlight due to recent research revealing it helped eliminate seizures in 54% of children evaluated in a new study.

Study results were presented virtually at the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting- (AES2020).  Findings showed that more than half of children with epilepsy reported being seizure-free a year following minimally invasive laser therapy – which precisely targets and zaps the exact area in the brain where seizures start.

Research detailed outcomes from 182 children ranging in age from 14 months to 21 years old who were treated with MRI-guided laser therapy between 2013 and 2020.

Of the 137 patients for whom one-year outcomes were readily available, 54% reported that they no longer experienced seizures.

According to our board-certified child neurologist and epileptologist Dr. Karen Keough, she says of MRI-guided laser therapy, “it’s much easier on the patient than surgery that opens the skull.”

She also points out that it’s a good option to know about and is less invasive than open brain surgery, but it is not without limitations. “It doesn't always have quite as good a result for seizure control, mostly because it addresses a smaller area and that could leave behind more tissue that can still cause seizures.”

How is MRI-guided laser therapy done?

A small hole is made to the skull whereby a thin laser fiber is then precisely introduced to burn, or melt, the lesion causing seizures. The procedure is less invasive than brain surgery, requires shorter hospital stays and results in fewer associated neurological complications.

Who is the best candidate for this therapy?

According to the study, MRI-guided laser therapy may be a good option for children with drug-resistant epilepsy with a single, identifiable area of seizure onset.  It is especially likely to work when a visible abnormality on an MRI corresponds to the area of seizure onset on EEG. It may not be as effective though for those with larger lesions, or with multiple seizure onset sites scattered throughout the brain.

For questions about this therapy or other epilepsy treatments, contact our pediatric neurologists at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin for an appointment.