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How Children’s National Neurosurgeons Use Laser Treatment to Send Epilepsy Patients Home Sooner

Using novel laser technology, our neurosurgeons can now use minimally invasive procedures to eradicate deep-seated brain lesions that cause drug-resistant epilepsy.

Hypothalamic hamartomas are a type of noncancerous tumors that live deep in the brain, in the hypothalamus, and can cause gelastic seizures. These seizures resemble laughing fits and are difficult to treat with medications, and when left untreated, they can cause significant learning and behavioral difficulties.

However, with Visualase magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)--guided laser technology, neurosurgeons, like Children’s National’s Chima Oluigbo, M.D., can eradicate these tumors using minimally invasive surgery, which means smaller incisions, smaller scars, and a faster recovery time for children.

According to Dr. Oluigbo, the neurosurgeons use an intraoperative MRI to see where to place the guide wire, and then software calculates the precise amount of energy necessary to destroy the tissue. The neurosurgeons can then check the affected area immediately, using MRI, to confirm the tumor was destroyed.

“Following Visualase treatment, children return home in no more than two days,” Dr. Oluigbo said. “With traditional surgical treatments, children would remain in the hospital for 10 days and experience more pain.”

William D. Gaillard, M.D., Chief of the Division of Epilepsy, Neurophysiology, and Critical Care Neurology, adds that this type of procedure reduces the risk of morbidity and mortality associated with open surgeries.

“Children with uncontrolled seizures need to be cared for in a place with specialized experience in childhood epilepsy so treatments that have the potential to preserve the quality of life can be considered earlier,” Dr. Gaillard said.



Megan Bellagamba's Story

Megan Bellagamba

Megan Bellagamba was inspired to become a nurse after her twin nieces were born prematurely and she saw the great care they received during their early days in the NICU. She saves lives at the hospital and during her personal time as fellow patron at a restaurant in Virginia, Pam Weil, recounts.

Read More of Megan Bellagamba's Story