Stereoelectroencephalography (SEEG) and MRI-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (MRgLITT) have emerged as safe, effective, and less invasive alternatives to subdural grid placement and open resection, respectively, for the localization and treatment of medically refractory epilepsy (MRE) in children. Reported pediatric experience combining these complementary techniques is limited, with traditional workflows separating electrode removal and ablation/resection. The authors describe the largest reported series of pediatric epilepsy patients who underwent MRgLITT following SEEG contrasted with a cohort that underwent craniotomy following SEEG, combining ablation/resection with electrode explantation as standard practice.
The medical records of all patients with MRE who had undergone SEEG followed by MRgLITT or open resection/disconnection at Boston Children’s Hospital between November 2015 and December 2020 were retrospectively reviewed. Primary outcome variables included surgical complication rates, length of hospital stay following treatment, and Engel classification at the last follow-up.
Of 74 SEEG patients, 27 (median age 12.1 years, 63% female) underwent MRgLITT and 47 (median age 12.1 years, 49% female) underwent craniotomy. Seventy patients (95%) underwent SEEG followed by combined electrode removal and treatment. Eight MRgLITT cases (30%) and no open cases targeted the insula (p < 0.001). Complication rates did not differ, although trends toward more subdural/epidural hematomas, infarcts, and permanent unanticipated neurological deficits were evident following craniotomy, whereas a trend toward more temporary unanticipated neurological deficits was seen following MRgLITT. The median duration of hospitalization after treatment was 3 and 5 days for MRgLITT and open cases, respectively (p = 0.078). Seizure outcomes were similar between the cohorts, with 74% of MRgLITT and craniotomy patients attaining Engel class I or II outcomes (p = 0.386) at the last follow-up (median 1.1 and 1.9 years, respectively).
MRgLITT and open resection following SEEG can both effectively treat MRE in pediatric patients and generally can be performed in a two-surgery workflow during a single hospitalization. In appropriately selected patients, MRgLITT tended to be associated with shorter hospitalizations and fewer complications following treatment and may be best suited for focal deep-seated targets associated with relatively challenging open surgical approaches.