Stereotactic laser induced thermotherapy (LITT): a novel treatment for brain lesions regrowing after radiosurgery
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Since the inception of radiosurgery, the management of brain metastases has become a common problem for neurosurgeons. Although the use of stereotactic radiosurgery and/or whole brain radiation therapy serves to control the majority of disease burden, patients who survive longer than 6–8 months sometimes face the problem of symptomatic radiographically regrowing lesions with few treatment options. Here we investigate the feasibility of use of MRI-guided stereotactic laser induced thermotherapy (LITT) as a novel treatment option for these lesions. Six patients who had previously undergone gamma knife stereotactic radiosurgery for brain metastases were selected. All patients had an initial favorable response to radiosurgery but subsequently developed regrowth of at least one lesion associated with recurrent edema and progressive neurological symptoms requiring ongoing steroids for symptom control. All lesions were evaluated for craniotomy, but were deemed unresectable due to deep location or patient’s comorbidities. Stereotactic biopsies were performed prior to the thermotherapy procedure in all cases. LITT was performed using the Visualase system and follow-up MRI imaging was used to determine treatment response. In all six patients biopsy results were negative for tumor and consistent with adverse radiation effects also known as radiation necrosis. Patients tolerated the procedure well and were discharged from the hospital within 48 h of the procedure. In 4/6 cases there was durable improvement of neurological symptoms until death. In all cases steroids were weaned off within 2 months. One patient died from systemic causes related to his cancer a month after the procedure. One patient had regrowth of the lesion 3 months after the procedure and required re-initiation of steroids and standard craniotomy for surgical resection. There were no complications directly related to the thermocoagulation procedure. Stereotactic laser induced thermotherapy is a feasible alternative for the treatment of symptomatic regrowing metastatic lesions after radiosurgery. The procedure carries minimal morbidity and, in this small series, shows some effectiveness in the symptomatic relief of edema and neurological symptoms paralleled by radiographic lesional control. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the safety of this technology.