MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound
For the first time in the Memphis region, patients who suffer from tremors, essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson’s disease tremors have access to treat these tremors with MR-guided focused ultrasound, an incisionless technology, that replaces traditional surgery.
What is essential tremor?
Essential tremor (ET) is a neurological condition that causes shaking of the hands, head and voice, but it can also cause the legs and trunk to shake. Some people even have a feeling of internal tremor. ET is often confused with Parkinson’s disease, although it’s eight times more common, affecting an estimated 10 million Americans and millions more worldwide.
The cause of essential tremor is not fully understood, but clinical research has identified the VIM nucleus of the thalamus as the spot in the brain which can be treated to alleviate the tremor. The thalamus is a structure deep in the brain that coordinates and controls motor activity as well as other functions.
How focused ultrasound works
We usually think of ultrasound as a non-invasive technology used for imaging. MR-guided focused ultrasound is a new incisionless technology used for therapeutic purposes. Focused ultrasound allows us to perform safe, and effective, incisionless therapy with little to no harm to the surrounding brain and with minimal side effects.
Ultrasound has the capability to pass through skin, muscle, fat and bone without the need for incisions, electrodes or inserted probes. Ultrasound energy is non-ionizing, meaning you are not being exposed to radiation during the procedure.
With this procedure, ultrasound energy is focused on an extremely small spot where tremor cells are located. The focused ultrasound leads to precise destruction of tremor cells, thereby eliminating your tremors.
The whole procedure is conducted while you are awake inside an MRI imaging scanner in order for the physician to plan, guide and target the tremor area easily. To ensure patient safety, focused ultrasound uses an MRI thermal imaging system that measures temperature changes within the brain and the skull.
Is this procedure right for you?
It is important to consult with your physician to determine if the MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment is right for you.
As part of the evaluation process, the severity of your tremor and your overall health will be evaluated. Patients will need to undergo a CT scan in order to determine if they are candidates for the MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment.
During the treatment, the patient will lie down on the treatment bed which will move in and out of the MRI scanner. The patient is awake in order to provide feedback about tremor improvement and potential side effects during the treatment.
Patients who have undergone this procedure have shown an immediate and significant reduction in tremor, resulting in improvement in performing daily activities such as eating, drinking and writing.