A PATIENT from Wirral is one of the first people to receive “world-leading” laser beam surgery to prevent epileptic seizures.

The NHS is to roll out a “game-changing” new laser beam therapy next month to help reduce seizures for patients with epilepsy.

The cutting-edge fibre optic laser therapy, known as Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT), targets the part of the brain causing seizures without the need for invasive surgery.

The treatment involves drilling a tiny hole to allow a 1.5mm-wide probe with a fibre optic laser at the tip to be inserted into the skull. This reaches and destroys the epilepsy-causing brain tissue from the inside by heating it.

Using an MRI scanner, the clinical team navigate through the brain avoiding blood vessels and other critical structures. They also monitor the temperature of the surrounding areas to make sure healthy brain tissue does not overheat.

The wound heals quickly, meaning patients can go home the next day (within 24-48 hours) with minimal risk of infection or other side effects and can usually return to work and other activities within a week.

Laura Diable, 39, from Birkenhead, was one of the first patients with epilepsy to have LITT at The Walton Centre.

She said: “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.

“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 – I can’t thank the team at The Walton Centre enough.”

It is estimated that up to 50 patients in England each year whose epilepsy cannot be controlled by standard anti-seizure drugs will be eligible for LITT.

The treatment will now be rolled out for eligible patients across England from June, being offered at King’s College Hospital in London and The Walton Centre in Liverpool as specialist national hubs.

Dr Andy Nicolson, Medical Director and Deputy CEO at The Walton Centre, said: “I’m delighted that we are now able to offer our patients with drug-resistant epilepsy this vital service.

“The team carried out a pilot involving three patients, using equipment generously funded by The Walton Centre Charity.

“Following this successful treatment, we are now one of only two trusts in England approved to move forward with a full service for adults that can accommodate a higher volume of patients.”

Around 600,000 people are currently living with Epilepsy across the UK (nearly one in 100 in the UK).

Taking medicines to help stop or reduce seizures is the main treatment for epilepsy, but one in three people with the condition are not able to control their seizures with drugs alone and may need invasive neurosurgery to remove the epilepsy-causing part of the brain.

However not all patients are able to have neurosurgery because the source of the seizure is not able to be localised or is not accessible by standard surgical techniques.

Patients with focal epilepsy for whom standard surgery is not an option may be potentially eligible for the less invasive and more targeted LITT treatment.

This provides an opportunity for very effective treatment for some patients with focal epilepsy which has until now been unavailable.