Stopping Seizures with Lasers


NEPTUNE, N.J.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Three and a half million Americans have epilepsy – a condition where abnormal activity in the brain causes seizures, which are periods of time where a person loses awareness. When medications don’t work to minimize seizures, surgery may become the only option. Now, there’s a minimally invasive brain surgery that is giving people their lives back. Stopping seizures

Skye Cotler was a competitive cheerleader at Rutgers University, and she was on her way to a concert with family and friends when her world changed without warning.

“One of my friends noticed that I was turning blue or purple and that’s the last thing I remember,” Skye recalls.

Skye woke up in an ambulance and when she got to the hospital, doctors determined she had a benign tangle of blood vessels in her brain that would bleed, causing seizures. Doctors recommended major brain surgery to correct the problem.

Skye thought, “They were going to shave part of my head and go in that way.”

Invasive brain surgery would have diminished the risk of seizures but also meant Skye could have lifelong migraines and other side effects. Ten days before her scheduled surgery, Skye found Dr. Shabbar Danish, a neurosurgeon at the Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Danish and his team use a special laser therapy called MRI Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy, or LITT. Surgeons drill a hole about an eighth of an inch wide and insert a special laser into the skull.

“The laser is a very small fiber, probably, thinner than the end of a ballpoint pen,” Dr. Danish explains.

Surgeons use MRI guidance to find the precise area of the brain they need to treat. When the laser is heated to between 113- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit, it causes treated cells to die.

“The next morning, I was standing, walking around but it was crazy because if I had gotten the regular craniotomy, I would’ve been out for a week or two weeks,” Skye exclaims.

Now, Skye is healthy and living life seizure-free with no restrictions.

Dr. Danish says the MRI guided LITT procedure is also effective in treating patients with some brain tumors including gliomas and cancer that has metastasized to the brain.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #5053

BACKGROUND: Brain surgery is used to repair physical structural problems in the brain. The type of brain surgery that is performed is based on the area of the brain affected and the condition being treated. Some types of brain surgery are craniotomy, which involves creating a hole or a bone flap in the skull to treat a certain area. Another type is minimally invasive endonasal endoscopic surgery, which is a procedure that involves the use of an endoscope through the nose or sinuses to remove tumors or lesions. Lastly, there is a minimally invasive neuroendoscopy which is similar to the endonasal endoscopic surgery in that they both use endoscopes to remove brain tumors but in this the surgeon will make dime sized holes in the skull to access the part of the brain they need to treat.  Some possible risks associated with brain surgery are bleeding in the brain, blood clot, brain swelling, coma, impaired speech, vision, coordination, or balance. Other risks include infection, memory problems, seizures, or stroke.


PREPARATION: Brain surgery is the most common treatment for people with brain tumors. Over 700,000 American are living with brain tumors today. First the doctors need to find the exact location of where the brain is being affected.  The doctors will order imaging tests like MRIs, CTs, or an angiogram. The neurosurgeon may use fiducial markers, or little stickers that look like white doughnuts, to target areas for surgical resection or treatment. Using this technique, a surgeon can safely find their way around the brain and locate the affected area. The doctor will also instruct patients on which medications to take or not to take before the procedure is done. They may have to stop taking medication a day before the procedure to get them out of your system.


LITT: Laser interstitial thermal therapy or LITT is a less invasive surgery selected for people with epilepsy. This surgery does not involve opening the bone covering to get to the brain. LITT uses laser technology to deliver a set amount of energy to a specific part of the brain. The laser energy changes to thermal energy, heating up to destroy the brain cells causing the seizures. MRI is used during the procedure to monitor the heated laser to make sure it is hitting the correct part of the brain to be removed or ablated. A computer program makes the temperature where the probe is placed in the brain to protect the brain tissue around the affected area. Patients normally stay in the hospital for one to two days after the procedure with a minimal amount of discomfort.



Edna Arguello

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Shabbar Danish, M.D., Chairman of Neurosurgery

Read the entire Q&A