Surgical treatment of hypothalamic hamartomas.

Source: Neurosurg Rev

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Hypothalamic hamartomas are aberrant masses, composed of abnormally distributed neurons and glia. Along endocrine and cognitive symptoms, they may cause epileptic seizures, including the specific gelastic and dacrystic seizures. Surgery is the treatment of drug-resistant hamartoma epilepsy, with associated positive results on endocrine, psychiatric, and cognitive symptoms. Recently, alternatives to open microsurgical treatment have been proposed. We review these techniques and compare their efficacy and safety. Open resection or disconnection of the hamartoma, either through pterional, transcallosal, or transventricular approach, leads to good epileptological control, but its high complication rate, up to 30%, limits its indications. The purely cisternal peduncular forms remain the only indication of open, pterional approach, while other strategies have been developed to overcome the neurological, endocrine, behavioral, or cognitive complications. Laser and radiofrequency thermocoagulation-based disconnection through robot-guided stereo-endoscopy has been proposed as an alternative to open microsurgical resection and stereotactic destruction. The goal is to allow safe and complete disconnection of a possibly complex attachment zone, through a single intraparenchymal trajectory which allows multiple laser or radiofrequency probe trajectory inside the ventricle. The efficacy was high, with 78% of favorable outcome, and the overall complication rate was 8%. It was especially effective in patients with isolated gelastic seizures and pure intraventricular hamartomas. Stereotactic radiosurgery has proved as efficacious and safer than open microsurgery, with around 60% of seizure control and a very low complication rate. Multiple stereotactic thermocoagulation showed very interesting results with 71% of seizure freedom and 2% of permanent complications. Stereotactic laser interstitial thermotherapy (LiTT) seems as effective as open microsurgery (from 76 to 81% of seizure freedom) but causes up to 20% of permanent complications. This technique has however been highly improved by targeting only the epileptogenic onset zone in the hamartoma, as shown on preoperative functional MRI, leading to an improvement of epilepsy control by 45% (92% of seizure freedom) with no postoperative morbidity. All these results suggest that the impact of the surgical procedure does not depend on purely technical matters (laser vs radiofrequency thermocoagulation or stereotactic vs robot-guided stereo-endoscopy) but relies on the understanding of the epileptic network, including inside the hamartoma, the aim being to plan an effective disconnection or lesion of the epileptogenic part while sparing the adjacent functional structures.