Giving Children the Chance to be Seizure Free

Children and young people living with severe epilepsy in Scotland will have the life-changing chance to be seizure free, thanks to funding of a world class laser coming to Edinburgh's new children's hospital.

A partnership between the Welch Trust, Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity (ECHC) and NHS Lothian is bringing MRI-guided Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) to the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People - the first time this laser technology will be available in Scotland.

LITT is a new and proven, minimally invasive treatment which uses a laser to remove brain tissue that is causing seizures. Children and young people who will be referred for laser surgery are diagnosed with refractory (medication resistant) epilepsy; they may experience up to 100 'drop down' seizures a day. In appropriately selected cases, laser surgery can stop seizures entirely and cure the child's epilepsy.

LITT is currently only available at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London or in Houston, Texas. The laser equipment will be part of the Scottish National Paediatric Epilepsy Surgery Service, based at the RHCYP in Edinburgh, meaning children will come to the capital from all over Scotland to have the surgery.

The current surgery choice practiced in Edinburgh is open brain surgery, which lasts around seven hours, has a longer recovery time and results in a scar across the top of the child's head. The LITT technology will reduce this time to around two hours, is much less invasive and has a shorter recovery time.

"Having the laser surgery available in Edinburgh gives families more choice in their place of care and means they will no longer need to endure the financial and emotional cost of national or international travel and separation at a very stressful time. It will also place Edinburgh on the map as a world-leading provider of epilepsy surgery and treatment."

- Roslyn Neely, CEO of ECHC

Victoria Welch, Trustee of the Welch Trust, said: "We are very proud to be able to gift this LITT technology to the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. As a Paediatric Nurse, I understand the importance of having the best equipment in the hospital to expedite the curing of patients with complicated conditions and ultimately save lives.

"When we were made aware of this need, we didn't have to think too long about it. Our focus continues to be to invest in high impact programmes that save lives or significantly improve the quality of life for very sick or terminally ill children. We look forward to continuing our partnership with ECHC and expanding our support across other areas of critical care."

The new laser equipment is compatible with the intra-operative MRI suite at the RHCYP. It is expected to arrive in summer 2021, followed by a period of intensive training prior to the first surgery taking place.

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