Home Health & Wellness NHS to Introduce New Therapy for Epilepsy Treatment

NHS to Introduce New Therapy for Epilepsy Treatment

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The NHS is set to roll out a groundbreaking new treatment for epilepsy that promises to change lives without the need for invasive surgery. Starting next month, Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) will be available at King’s College Hospital in London and The Walton Centre in Liverpool, with plans to expand to other regions in England.

This innovative treatment, which uses a fibre-optic laser to target and destroy the parts of the brain causing epileptic seizures, is particularly geared towards patients for whom traditional anti-seizure medications are ineffective.

James Palmer, NHS England’s Medical Director for Specialised Services and a consultant neurosurgeon, highlighted the significance of this advancement: “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.”

The procedure involves drilling a tiny hole in the skull to insert a 1.5-mm-wide probe containing the laser. This method allows the laser to precisely target and destroy the tissue responsible for seizures. The entire process is guided by MRI scanning, ensuring the surrounding brain tissue remains unharmed and healthy.

According to the NHS, the new treatment dramatically reduces recovery time, allowing patients to return to their daily activities within a week, a significant improvement over traditional methods, which could take months.

The impact of LITT on patients’ lives has been profound. Laura Diable, a 39-year-old from Birkenhead who was among the first to receive the treatment at The Walton Centre, shared her experience: “Since having the procedure nearly a year ago, I’ve not had one seizure. It’s made a huge difference to my quality of life.”

She continued, explaining the debilitating nature of her condition prior to the procedure: “Before, the seizures were incapacitating me, leaving black spots in my memory. Thanks to LITT, I’ve been able to get on with my life and worry less about my epilepsy.”

The introduction of LITT is a significant development for approximately 600,000 people living with epilepsy in the UK, nearly 1 in 100 individuals. Traditional treatment methods, which often involve extensive neurosurgery, can be invasive and carry significant risks and recovery periods. For many patients, surgery is not an option due to the inability to localise or access the seizure source through conventional methods.

With the advent of LITT, eligible patients now have access to a less invasive, highly effective treatment option. This therapy is expected to benefit up to 50 patients each year who are resistant to standard medications.

Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Health, emphasised the treatment’s importance: “This groundbreaking new treatment will change the lives of those with severe epilepsy, improving quality of life and providing much-needed assurance.”

The LITT procedure benefits from a sophisticated navigation system developed at the Epilepsy Society’s MRI unit, which allows surgeons to accurately target the affected brain areas.

Ley Sander, Medical Director at the Epilepsy Society and Professor of Neurology at UCL, described the benefits: “This non-invasive form of neurosurgery could be groundbreaking for some people with brain lesions whose seizures do not respond to conventional treatment options, including more invasive epilepsy surgery. It will make surgery safer and faster and dramatically cut the recovery period for individuals.”

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