Laser ablation is a novel, minimally invasive procedure that utilizes MRI-guided thermal energy to treat epileptogenic and other brain lesions. In addition to treatment of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, laser ablation is increasingly being used to target deep or inoperable lesions, including hypothalamic hamartoma (HH), subependymal giant cell astrocytoma (SEGA), and exophytic intrinsic hypothalamic/third ventricular tumors. The authors reviewed their early institutional experience with these patients to characterize clinical outcomes in patients undergoing this procedure.
A retrospective cohort (n = 12) of patients undergoing laser ablation at a single institution was identified, and clinical and radiographic records were reviewed.
Laser ablation was successfully performed in all patients. No permanent neurological or endocrine complications occurred; 2 (17%) patients developed acute obstructive hydrocephalus or shunt malfunction following treatment. Laser ablation of HH resulted in seizure freedom (Engel Class I) in 67%, with the remaining patients having a clinically significant reduction in seizure frequency of greater than 90% compared with preoperative baseline (Engel Class IIB). Treatment of SEGAs resulted in durable clinical and radiographic tumor control in 2 of 3 cases, with one patient receiving adjuvant everolimus and the other receiving no additional therapy. Palliative ablation of hypothalamic/third ventricular tumors resulted in partial tumor control in 1 of 3 patients.
Early experience suggests that laser ablation is a generally safe, durable, and effective treatment for patients harboring HHs. It also appears effective for local control of SEGAs, especially in combination therapy with everolimus. Its use as a palliative treatment for intrinsic hypothalamic/deep intraventricular tumors was less successful and associated with a higher risk of serious complications. Additional experience and long-term follow-up will be beneficial in further characterizing the effectiveness and risk profile of laser ablation in treating these lesions in comparison with conventional resective surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery.