The Minimally Invasive Epilepsy Surgery Center

In 2010, Texas Children’s Hospital became the first hospital in the world to use real-time MRI-guided thermal imaging and laser technology to destroy lesions in the brain that cause seizures. Since then we have operated on more than 140 patients with epilepsy (as of March 2017) from around the world providing them with a safe, less invasive alternative to craniotomies at our National Associations of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) recognized Level 4 epilepsy center.

MRI-guided laser surgery targets abnormal tissue at the speed of light and with extraordinary precision. This technology is changing the face of epilepsy treatment, providing a minimally invasive and often life-altering option for many epilepsy patients. Currently, 93% of patients are seizure free one year after surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital.

The benefits of this new approach – reduced risk and invasiveness – may allow more epilepsy patients to be considered viable surgery candidates in the future.

Our team of experts

The minimally invasive epilepsy surgical team at Texas Children’s Hospital are the leaders in the field of neurosurgery. This multidisciplinary team includes neurosurgeons, epileptologists, clinical neurophysiologists, specialized pediatric nurse practitioners, a clinical pharmacist, neuropsychologists, neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, dietitians and social workers.

To learn more about our clinicians, please visit our team page.

A safer, less invasive surgery

The minimally invasive epilepsy surgery is performed by first mapping the area of the brain where the lesion is located using magnetic resonance imaging. A catheter is inserted through the skull in the operating room and then the patient is transferred to an MRI unit where the ablation of the lesion is performed. The MRI confirms probe placement in the target, and the magnetic resonance thermal imaging allows the surgeon to see the ablation of the lesion by the laser heat as it happens with an automatic feedback system that shuts the laser off when the heat approaches nearby critical brain structures.

The advantages of MRI-guided laser surgery include:

  • A safer, significantly less-invasive alternative to open brain surgery with a craniotomy, which is the traditional technique used for surgical treatment of epilepsy
  • Patients are able to keep their hair as hair removal is not required
  • The opening needed for the laser to enter the brain is only 3 mm and is closed with a single suture
  • Minimal scaring and pain following the procedure
  • Reduced risk of complications and shorter recovery time
  • The majority of patients are discharged the day after surgery

Addressing a variety of conditions

MRI-guided laser surgery is used to successfully treat a variety of brain abnormalities including hypothalamic hamartoma, tuberous sclerosis, mesial temporal lobe epilepsy and cortical dysplasia. It can also be used to perform corpus callosotomy.

To read more about minimally invasive neurosurgery including a description of the procedures, patient candidates, risks and results, please visit our minimally invasive laser ablation page.

To learn more about the Epilepsy Center at Texas Children’s Hospital and to inquire about admissions and patient candidates, please contact 832-822-0959.