Hypothalamic Hamartomas

Hypothalamic hamartomas (HH) are rare, benign tumors found in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that controls many of the “autonomic” functions such as hunger, thirst, sleep, temperature, mood control and hormones. HHs are estimated to affect approximately 30,000 people worldwide and causes many types of seizures, of which gelastic seizures are most prominent. Gelastic seizures are a rare type of epilepsy that involves a sudden uncontrollable burst of energy, in the form of laughing or crying. Most of HH patients do not respond well to typical seizure medications and so, reducing the tumor size is the most common way to reduce the seizures.

  • Traditional surgical methods have had poor outcomes in HH patients and can result in severe complications. In 2013, a new MRI-guided stereotactic laser ablation procedure was developed by leading epileptologists at Texas Children’s Hospital, Drs. Daniel Curry and Angus Wilfong (now at Phoenix Children’s Hospital), to treat intractable gelastic seizures in HH patients. This new procedure combines stereotactic precision with real-time MRI thermometry to ablate HH. This new procedure is minimally invasive, potentially safer, results in more seizure-free outcomes, has fewer side effects and shorter hospital stays. Read more
  • A recent study shows that of 71 HH patients who were underwent this procedure, 93% were free of gelastic seizures at the one-year follow-up. Read more