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Clinical Trial for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Using MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 12 Oct 2015
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Researchers are conducting the first clinical trial of a new noninvasive treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-guided ultrasound.

The researchers used MRI to guide ultrasound waves through the skin and skull to the globus pallidus region of the brain. The globus pallidus regulates voluntary movement and current treatment sometimes involves surgery or medication that treats symptoms such as tremors, rigidity and dyskinesia in Parkinson’s patients. Current treatment methods can temporarily reduce motor symptomatology, and have unwanted side effects.

The new technique was developed by researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC; Baltimore, MD, USA), and the UMM Center for Metabolic Imaging and Image-Guided Therapeutics (CMIT), and takes between two to four hours. The patient is treated in an MRI scanner and wears a transducer helmet within a head-immobilizing frame. The globus pallidus region of the brain is then targeted using ultrasound waves while images are acquired in real-time allowing physicians to monitor the target area and make adjustments if needed.

The results of the initial phase of the study show that patients experienced a significant improvement in hand tremors.

Principal investigator Howard M. Eisenberg, said, “The neurology community has made significant strides in helping patients with Parkinson’s over the years; utilization of MRI-guided focused ultrasound could help limit the life-altering side effects like dyskinesia to make the disease more manageable and less debilitating. We’re raising the temperature in a very restricted area of the brain to destroy tissue. The ultrasound waves create a heat lesion that we can monitor through MRI.”

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