A new treatment may help prevent seizures for the approximately three million Americans living with epilepsy. Called laser ablation, the experimental procedure is already helping patients regain some of their quality of life.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder caused by any of a number of things. The condition can be instigated by traumatic brain injury, dementia, a brain tumor, a congenital defect or other circumstances that damage brain tissue.
Conventional treatment uses anticonvulsant medications to control the seizures. There is a wide variety of these medications, which collectively work about two-thirds of the time. However, some patients continue to have seizures even with treatment. Most of these patients can be treated with surgery, but many are reluctant to go that route.
Laser ablation uses a tiny incision and a fiber-optic cable to directly target the affected part of the brain. When doctors can locate the precise location where the seizures start, this procedure is better than traditional survey, which removes rather larger portions of the brain and may impair functioning.
Laser ablation is also far less involved than conventional surgery, requiring only a local anesthetic and a single stitch and with many patients able to go home the next day.