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Whitney E. Parker, Elizabeth K. Weidman, J. Levi Chazen, Sumit N. Niogi, Rafael Uribe-Cardenas, Michael G. Kaplitt and Caitlin E. Hoffman


The authors tested the feasibility of magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) ablation of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) seizure circuits. Up to one-third of patients with mesial temporal sclerosis (MTS) suffer from medically refractory epilepsy requiring surgery. Because current options such as open resection, laser ablation, and Gamma Knife radiosurgery pose potential risks, such as infection, hemorrhage, and ionizing radiation, and because they often produce visual or neuropsychological deficits, the authors developed a noninvasive MRgFUS ablation strategy for mesial temporal disconnection to mitigate these risks.


The authors retrospectively reviewed 3-T MRI scans obtained with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The study group included 10 patients with essential tremor (ET) who underwent pretreatment CT and MRI prior to MRgFUS, and 2 patients with MTS who underwent MRI. Fiber tracking of the fornix-fimbria pathway and inferior optic radiations was performed, ablation sites mimicking targets of open posterior hippocampal disconnection were modeled, and theoretical MRgFUS surgical plans were devised. Distances between the targets and optic radiations were measured, helmet angulations were prescribed, and the numbers of available MRgFUS array elements were calculated.


Tractograms of fornix-fimbria and optic radiations were generated in all ET and MTS patients successfully. Of the 10 patients with both the CT and MRI data necessary for the analysis, 8 patients had adequate elements available to target the ablation site. A margin (mean 8.5 mm, range 6.5–9.8 mm) of separation was maintained between the target lesion and optic radiations.


MRgFUS offers a noninvasive option for seizure tract disruption. DTI identifies fornix-fimbria and optic radiations to localize optimal ablation targets and critical surrounding structures, minimizing risk of postoperative visual field deficits. This theoretical modeling study provides the necessary groundwork for future clinical trials to apply this novel neurosurgical technique to patients with refractory MTLE and surgical contraindications, multiple prior surgeries, or other factors favoring noninvasive treatment.