Monteris Medical, (image-guided laser interstitial thermotherapy), has announced that health insurance provider Anthem, Inc. has established Clinical Utilization Management (UM) Guidelines for LITT allowing access to a minimally invasive surgical option to its beneficiaries with refractory epilepsy when the established medical necessity criteria have been met. This action follows a similar decision by insurance provider Aetna in August 2018.

“This decision from Anthem, so soon after a similar one by Aetna, demonstrates significant progress toward giving more patients suffering from refractory epilepsy access to more options for a care pathway that will be best for them,” said Martin J. Emerson, CEO of Monteris Medical. “It provides patients and physicians the minimally invasive NeuroBlate System as an alternative for those who may be a viable surgical candidate, but do not want to undergo an open, more invasive, surgical resection.”

Epilepsy is a condition that results in recurrent seizures. In some patients, physicians can identify a focal point within the brain, including lesions or abnormal tissue, in which the seizures originate. Historically, epilepsy patients who do not respond to multiple anti-seizure medications may become candidates for open surgery. For many patients, the benefits of surgery to destroy epileptic tissue and disable complex partial seizures are often greater than continued treatment with anti-epileptic drugs alone. Monteris Medical’s NeuroBlate System is a tool used to perform LITT, a surgical option for destroying lesions. Anthem’s updated clinical guidelines will allow epilepsy patients who are considered surgical candidates to have access to a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery.

The NeuroBlate System utilizes robotically controlled laser thermotherapy that directs a MRI-guided laser to ablate unwanted tissue in the brain where the lesion, or abnormal tissue, originates. Unlike traditional brain surgery, a procedure with the NeuroBlate System does not require a large opening in the skull. Instead, surgeons create a small hole in the skull, about the diameter of a pencil. While the patient is in the MRI machine, the doctor guides a small laser device (probe) through the hole and into the lesion. The precise nature of the procedure helps to lessen the likelihood of harm to nearby healthy brain tissue. Since market release in 2013, 125 leading surgeons at 60 hospitals across the U.S. and Canada have used the company’s NeuroBlate System on more than 2,000 patients. Nearly all those patients have suffered from epilepsy, glioblastomas, recurrent brain metastases or radiation necrosis.