Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is a minimally invasive technique that allows surgeons to precisely target and destroy brain tumors without harm to surrounding healthy tissue. In a process called ablation, the heat generated by a small laser is used to kill the cancer cells.

We can use LITT for a variety of tumors, including newly diagnosed and recurrent gliomas as well as brain metastases (cancer that's spread to the brain from elsewhere in the body). It's an effective option for patients who can't have or don't want a craniotomy (the traditional surgical approach of cutting through the skull). LITT's advantages include a smaller incision, shorter hospital stay and faster recovery. We also use LITT to treat certain types of epilepsy.

Demonstrating our commitment to providing the latest and most innovative treatments, UCSF Health was the first Northern California hospital to offer LITT for certain brain tumors and epilepsy. When someone may be a candidate for LITT, our team of neurosurgeons, neurologists and other specialists works collaboratively to evaluate that patient and recommend the best care plan.

Who may benefit

LITT is generally used to treat newly diagnosed or recurrent gliomas and brain metastases. But it may also be option for patients with brain tumors that can't be treated with a craniotomy and those who can't or don't want to undergo that type of surgery.

Whether you're a candidate for LITT depends on a number of factors, including tumor size, shape and location. The technique is most effective on tumors that are round and small (less than 3 centimeters in diameter). Our care team will review your imaging tests, biopsies and other information with you to help you decide whether LITT is right for you.