Magnetic resonance thermometry-guided stereotactic laser ablation of cavernous malformations in drug-resistant epilepsy: Imaging and clinical results

D. Jay McCracken, Jon T. Willie, Brad A. Fernald, Amit M. Saindane, Daniel L. Drane, Daniel L. Barrow, Robert E. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Surgery is indicated for cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) that cause medically refractory epilepsy. Real-time magnetic resonance thermography (MRT)-guided stereotactic laser ablation (SLA) is a minimally invasive approach to treating focal brain lesions. SLA of CCM has not previously been described. OBJECTIVE: To describe MRT-guided SLA, a novel approach to treating CCM-related epilepsy, with respect to feasibility, safety, imaging, and seizure control in 5 consecutive patients. METHODS: Five patients with medically refractory epilepsy undergoing standard presurgical evaluation were found to have corresponding lesions fulfilling imaging characteristics of CCM and were prospectively enrolled. Each underwent stereotactic placement of a saline-cooled cannula containing an optical fiber to deliver 980-nm diode laser energy via twist drill craniostomy. MR anatomic imaging was used to evaluate targeting before ablation. MR imaging provided evaluation of targeting and near real-time feedback regarding the extent of tissue thermocoagulation. Patients maintained seizure diaries, and remote imaging (6-21 months postablation) was obtained in all patients. RESULTS: Imaging revealed no evidence of acute hemorrhage following fiber placement within presumed CCM. MRT during treatment and immediate postprocedure imaging confirmed the desired extent of ablation. We identified no adverse events or neurological deficits. Four of 5 (80%) patients achieved freedom from disabling seizures after SLA alone (Engel class 1 outcome), with follow-up ranging 12 to 28 months. Reimaging of all subjects (6-21 months) indicated lesion diminution with surrounding liquefactive necrosis, consistent with the surgical goal of extended lesionotomy. CONCLUSION: Minimally invasive MRT-guided SLA of epileptogenic CCM is a potentially safe and effective alternative to open resection. Additional experience and longer follow-up are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cavernous malformation
  • Epilepsy
  • Laser therapy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures
  • Stereotactic techniques
  • Thermometry


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