MRI Guided Focused Ultrasound Shows Promise For Essential Tremor Treatment

Dr. Jeffrey Elias, Director of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at University of Virginia, recently presented data at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons on preliminary results for a clinical trial using MR-guided focused ultrasound to treat Essential Tremors (ET), a condition affecting 10 million Americans. In the first 10 patients studied there was a reported 78% improvement in contralateral tremor scores in the hand.  Patients’ functional activities scores also greatly improved. The study uses MRI imaging to identify and pinpoint delivery of focused ultrasound to a particular area in the brain known as the thalamus.  If final results prove successful Dr. Elias anticipates a larger follow-up trial to study the overall safety and long-term efficacy of such a treatment modality.

MR-guided Focused Ultrasound blends the accuracy of MRI imaging and the technology of high intensity focused ultrasound to deliver energy with extreme precision to target tissue in the body as small as 1 mm in diameter.  Up to 1000 intersecting ultrasound beams can converge on a particular location in the body allowing for high intensity energy delivery.

Multiple companies manufacture the MR-guided Focused Ultrasound. This particular study was performed using the ExAblate Neuro by InSightec, Ltd.

Currently, MR-guided focused ultrasound is FDA-approved for treating uterine fibroids.  In Europe it is also approved for treating bone metastases.  Clinical trials are underway for the treatment of breast and brain cancer.

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