The surgical approach to hypothalamic hamartomas (HHs) associated with medically refractory epilepsy is challenging because of these lesions’ deep midline or paramedian location. Whether the aim is resection or disconnection, the surgical corridor dictates how complete a procedure can be achieved. Here, the authors report a transtemporal approach suitable for Delalande type I, inferior extraventricular component of type III, and type IV lesions. This approach provides optimal visualization of the plane between the hamartoma and the hypothalamus with no manipulation to the pituitary stalk and brainstem, allowing for extensive disconnection while minimizing injury to adjacent neurovascular structures.
Through a 1-cm corticectomy in the middle temporal gyrus, a surgical tract is developed under neuronavigational guidance toward the plane of intended disconnection. On reaching the mesial temporal pia-arachnoid margin, it is opened, providing direct visualization of the hamartoma, which is then disconnected or resected as indicated. Critical neurovascular structures are generally not exposed through this approach and are preserved if encountered.
Three patients (mean age 4.9 years) with intractable epilepsy were treated using this technique as part of the national Children’s Epilepsy Surgery Service. Following resection, the patient in case 1 (Delalande type I) is seizure free off medication at 3 years’ follow-up (Engel class IA). The patient in case 2 (Delalande type III) initially underwent partial disconnection through a transcallosal interforniceal approach and at first had significant seizure improvement before the seizures worsened in frequency and type. Complete disconnection of the residual lesion was achieved using the transtemporal approach, rendering this patient seizure free off medication at 14 months postsurgery (Engel class IA). The patient in case 3 (Delalande type IV) underwent incomplete disconnection with a substantial reduction in seizure frequency at 3 years’ follow-up (Engel class IIIC). There were no surgical complications in any of the cases.
The transtemporal approach is a safe and effective alternative to more conventional surgical approaches in managing HHs with intractable epilepsy.