Feinstein Institute enrolls epilepsy patients in MRI-guided laser ablation clinical trial

Feinstein Institute enrolls epilepsy patients in MRI-guided laser ablation clinical trial
Dr. Ashesh Mehta performs laser ablation at North Shore University Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the first on Long Island to enroll patients suffering from epilepsy into a clinical trial testing if they can be treated with laser ablation, which allows clinicians to monitor the destruction of diseased tissue in real-time. The laser ablation being tested is an MRI-guided laser ablation system called the “Stereotactic Laser Ablation for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.”

The use of Stereotactic Laser Ablation for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy – produced by Medtronic’s Visualase – allows neurosurgeons to simultaneously deliver, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of thermal energy during MRI imaging. In this minimally-invasive procedure, a laser device is inserted into the brain through a one-quarter inch incision and delivers energy produced by the laser to heat and destroy the diseased, seizure-producing tissue deep within the brain. This multi-centered clinical trial aims to test the safety and efficacy of the Visualase system for the treatment of epilepsy patients.

“Laser ablation technology is useful in patients with this most common form of epilepsy, where there is a scarring of the deepest portion of one’s temporal lobe,” said Dr. Ashesh Mehta, the principal investigator of the study, Feinstein Institute associate professor and Northwell Health’s director of epilepsy surgery. “This scarring is often the cause for seizures that cannot be controlled by medications alone.” 

The Visualase system has already been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in neurosurgery but is considered an investigational device for people with drug-resistant mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. The treatment is focused and MRI temperature maps provide the neurosurgeon with a real-time view of the diseased tissue being destroyed, without damaging healthy tissue. The laser device is then removed and the incision is closed.

A 22-year-old female from Valley Stream was the first patient to benefit from the Stereotactic Laser Ablation for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy procedure at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. The surgery took place on Feb. 13 and was performed by Mehta.

Participants in the trial will be followed for one year after their laser ablation procedure and evaluated for seizures, other adverse events, neuropsychological outcomes and quality of life.

For more information about the SLATE trial at Northwell Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, contact Denise K. McDermott, neurosurgery research nurse at 516-562-2926.

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