NHS to roll out ‘game-changing’ laser beam therapy for epilepsy



The NHS is to roll out a new laser beam therapy next month to help reduce seizures for patients with epilepsy.

The cutting-edge fibre optic laser therapy, known as Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT), targets the part of the brain causing seizures without the need for invasive surgery.

The treatment will now be rolled out for eligible patients across England from June, being offered at King’s College Hospital in London and The Walton Centre in Liverpool as specialist national hubs.

James Palmer is NHS England’s Medical Director for Specialised Services and a Consultant Neurosurgeon.

He said: “This laser beam therapy is game-changing for patients and will offer new hope on the NHS to those for whom standard drugs are not effective in controlling their seizures.

“Not only will this world-leading technology help replace invasive surgery for patients, which can have a huge impact take months to recover from, it will also allow clinicians to better target the parts of the brain causing the epilepsy, which dramatically reduces the risks and helps cut patients’ recovery time both in and out of hospital.”

The treatment involves drilling a tiny hole to allow a 1.5mm-wide probe with a fibre optic laser at the tip to be inserted into the skull.

This reaches and destroys the epilepsy-causing brain tissue from the inside by heating it.

Using an MRI scanner, the clinical team navigate through the brain avoiding blood vessels and other critical structures.

They also monitor the temperature of the surrounding areas to make sure healthy brain tissue does not overheat.

The wound heals quickly, meaning patients can go home the next day (within 24-48 hours) with minimal risk of infection or other side effects and can usually return to work and other activities within a week.

It is estimated that up to 50 patients in England each year whose epilepsy cannot be controlled by standard anti-seizure drugs will be eligible for LITT.

Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Health, said: “We are determined to support people with epilepsy and their families. Epilepsy can be a very difficult condition to live with, both for patients and for those around them.

“This groundbreaking new treatment will change the lives of those with severe epilepsy, improving quality of life and providing much-needed

Dr Andy Nicolson, Medical Director and Deputy CEO at The Walton Centre, added: “I’m delighted that we are now able to offer our patients with drug-resistant epilepsy this vital service.

“The team carried out a pilot involving three patients, using equipment generously funded by The Walton Centre Charity.

“Following this successful treatment, we are now one of only two trusts in England approved to move forward with a full service for adults that can accommodate a higher volume of patients.”

Click to comment

Trending stories

Exit mobile version