Intraoperative changes in large-scale thalamic circuitry following laser ablation of hypothalamic hamartomas

Karim Mithani*, Oliver L. Richards, Mark Ebden, Noor Malik, Ladina Greuter, Hrishikesh Suresh, Farbod Niazi, Flavia Venetucci Gouveia, Elysa Widjaja, Shelly Weiss, Elizabeth Donner, Hiroshi Otsubo, Ayako Ochi, Puneet Jain, Ivanna Yau, Elizabeth N. Kerr, James T. Rutka, James M. Drake, Alexander G. Weil, George M. Ibrahim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives: Gelastic seizures due to hypothalamic hamartomas (HH) are challenging to treat, in part due to an incomplete understanding of seizure propagation pathways. Although magnetic resonance imaging-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (MRgLITT) is a promising intervention to disconnect HH from ictal propagation networks, the optimal site of ablation to achieve seizure freedom is not known. In this study, we investigated intraoperative post-ablation changes in resting-state functional connectivity to identify large-scale networks associated with successful disconnection of HH. Methods: Children who underwent MRgLITT for HH at two institutions were consecutively recruited and followed for a minimum of one year. Seizure freedom was defined as Engel score of 1A at the last available follow-up. Immediate pre- and post- ablation resting-state functional MRI scans were acquired while maintaining a constant depth of general anesthetic. Multivariable generalized linear models were used to identify intraoperative changes in large-scale connectivity associated with seizure outcomes. Results: Twelve patients underwent MRgLITT for HH, five of whom were seizure-free at their last follow-up. Intraprocedural changes in thalamocortical circuitry involving the anterior cingulate cortex were associated with seizure-freedom. Children who were seizure-free demonstrated an increase and decrease in connectivity to the pregenual and dorsal anterior cingulate cortices, respectively. In addition, children who became seizure-free demonstrated increased thalamic connectivity to the periaqueductal gray immediately following MRgLITT. Discussion: Successful disconnection of HH is associated with intraoperative, large-scale changes in thalamocortical connectivity. These changes provide novel insights into the large-scale basis of gelastic seizures and may represent intraoperative biomarkers of treatment success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103613
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • Connectomics
  • Epilepsy Surgery
  • Gelastic epilepsy
  • Hypothalamic hamartoma
  • Laser interstitial thermal therapy
  • Pathologic laughter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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