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UK Hospital to Perform First Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Essential Tremor

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 20 Dec 2016
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Image: An MR-guided focused ultrasound procedure in progress (Photo courtesy of INSIGHTEC).
Image: An MR-guided focused ultrasound procedure in progress (Photo courtesy of INSIGHTEC).
A hospital in London, UK, will become the first institution in the UK to perform a new non-invasive treatment for essential tremor called MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamic lesioning.

Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder in the UK, and mostly causes hand tremors that make simple tasks such as dressing, eating, holding objects, writing, and even speaking, difficult. Current treatments include medication, and invasive surgery such as thalamotomy, or Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

The MRgFUS procedure was pioneered by INSIGHTEC (Tirat HaCarmel, Israel) and is being performed at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (London, UK). The medical team performing the procedure is using the US FDA-approved INSIGHTEC Exablate Neuro focused ultrasound device for the trial.

The treatment includes applying low energy ultrasound together with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans to identify the thalamus and sub-thalamic areas thought to be responsible for the tremors. When the system locates the target area, a high-intensity ultrasound beam heats and destroys only the target tissue. During the procedure the patient remains fully conscious, lying in an MRI scanner. The effect of the treatment is immediate, and results in a significant reduction of the tremors.

Consultant Neurosurgeon, Mr Dipankar Nandi, said, “I have been performing DBS operations for over 15 years. This breakthrough allows us now to operate on these patients without the significant risks that inserting an electrode 15 cms deep into the brain entails. We are at the cusp of widening the applications of this innovative technology to help a wide variety of patients, some of whom had no therapeutic option before.”

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Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

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