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How technology is driving the landscape of epilepsy surgery

Journal article
Authors C. Dorfer
Bertil Rydenhag
G. Baltuch
V. Buch
J. Blount
R. Bollo
J. Gerrard
Daniel Nilsson
K. Roessler
J. Rutka
A. Sharan
D. Spencer
A. Cukiert
Published in Epilepsia
Volume 61
Issue 5
Pages 841-855
ISSN 0013-9580
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Pages 841-855
Language en
Keywords epilepsy surgery, high-intensity focused ultrasound, intraoperative MRI, laser ablation, neuromodulation, robots, vagus nerve-stimulation, temporal-lobe epilepsy, interstitial thermal, therapy, guided focused ultrasound, stereotactic laser, amygdalohippocampotomy, focal cortical dysplasia, quality-of-life, long-term, refractory epilepsy, responsive neurostimulation, Neurosciences & Neurology
Subject categories Neurology


This article emphasizes the role of the technological progress in changing the landscape of epilepsy surgery and provides a critical appraisal of robotic applications, laser interstitial thermal therapy, intraoperative imaging, wireless recording, new neuromodulation techniques, and high-intensity focused ultrasound. Specifically, (a) it relativizes the current hype in using robots for stereo-electroencephalography (SEEG) to increase the accuracy of depth electrode placement and save operating time; (b) discusses the drawback of laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) when it comes to the need for adequate histopathologic specimen and the fact that the concept of stereotactic disconnection is not new; (c) addresses the ratio between the benefits and expenditure of using intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), that is, the high technical and personnel expertise needed that might restrict its use to centers with a high case load, including those unrelated to epilepsy; (d) soberly reviews the advantages, disadvantages, and future potentials of neuromodulation techniques with special emphasis on the differences between closed and open-loop systems; and (e) provides a critical outlook on the clinical implications of focused ultrasound, wireless recording, and multipurpose electrodes that are already on the horizon. This outlook shows that although current ultrasonic systems do have some limitations in delivering the acoustic energy, further advance of this technique may lead to novel treatment paradigms. Furthermore, it highlights that new data streams from multipurpose electrodes and wireless transmission of intracranial recordings will become available soon once some critical developments will be achieved such as electrode fidelity, data processing and storage, heat conduction as well as rechargeable technology. A better understanding of modern epilepsy surgery will help to demystify epilepsy surgery for the patients and the treating physicians and thereby reduce the surgical treatment gap.

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