First essential tremor patient in UK treated with MR-guided focused ultrasound

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | December 13, 2016
Alzheimers/Neurology Ultrasound
INSIGHTEC's ExAblate Neuro system
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust recently became the first in the U.K. to treat essential tremor with focused ultrasound.

"This breakthrough allows us now to operate on these patients without the significant risks that inserting an electrode 15 cm deep into the brain entails," Dr. Dipankar Nandi, consultant neurosurgeon, said in a statement.

Nandi, who has been performing thalamotomy operations for over 15 years, led the medical team at Imperial College. They used the ExAblate Neuro to perform noninvasive MR-guided focused ultrasound thalamic lesioning as part of a trial.
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The treatment starts by applying low-energy ultrasound waves with MR guidance to identify part of the thalamus and thalamic regions of the brain, which are thought to cause tremors.

When those regions are located, high-intensity ultrasound waves are then applied to heat and destroy only the target tissue. During the procedure, the patient is fully conscious and lying on the treatment bed in an MR scanner.

Some patients experience an immediate and significant reduction in tremors. In addition, the procedure minimizes the risk of infection, bleeding, stroke and other surgical complications.

The FDA cleared ExAblate Neuro for treating essential tremor in July after a study found that MR-guided focused ultrasound decreases essential tremors by almost half. The study was conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients with essential tremor now have a treatment option that allows them to be treated on an outpatient basis and quickly return to their daily life with improvement in their tremor," Rick Schallhorn, vice president of neurosurgery at INSIGHTEC, said in a statement.

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