Focused Ultrasound

Focused Ultrasound is a new non-invasive essential tremor treatment. This procedure utilizes focused ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to treat deep inside the brain without having to use incisions.

How does focused ultrasound work?

During the procedure, ultrasound energy is raised to a very high temperature and then directed at a tiny target inside the brain called the ventral intermediate (VIM) nucleus of the thalamus. This, in turn, raises the temperature of the target high enough to burn the tissue, thus creating the therapeutic effect.

The physician is able to expertly target the small area through use of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. This also allows for precise measurement of the temperature which is essential to ensuring that only the intended area is destroyed.

Because ultrasound energy is non-ionizing, the patient is not exposed to any radiation during the procedure. Furthermore, because it can pass safely through skin, muscle, fat, and bone, there is no need for any incisions.

Benefits of Focused Ultrasound

  1. Tremor Improvement – patients in clinical studies reported immediate and significant relief 1
  2. Non-Invasive – procedure requires no incisions
  3. Quick Recovery – patients can resume normal activity within days
  4. FDA Approved – safe and effective with minimal side effects 2

Are you a candidate for this procedure?

The following are requirements to be a candidate for the focused ultrasound treatment:

  • You have a confirmed diagnoses of essential tremor
  • You’ve tried at least one medication to treat your essential tremor and it either did not help or you have undesirable consequences
  • You are at least 22 years old
  • Because the procedure is done using an MRI scanner, there is a physical weight limit, generally in the range of 300 lbs.

Possible reasons why you may not be a candidate for this procedure:

  • If you have any kind of metallic implants, such as pacemakers, neurostimulators, spine or bone fixation
    devices, total joints, metal clips, screws, etc. (Any metallic implants must be non-magnetic to prevent injury to the patient from the MR’s strong magnetic field.)
  • If you are not generally healthy enough to withstand the treatment and lie still in the same position for
    approximately 3 hours
  • If you have had a recent myocardial infarction (heart attack) or have congestive heart failure (fluid around the heart), unstable angina pectoris (chest pain), or spinal conditions
  • If you have extensive scarring on the scalp
  • If you are claustrophobic and unable to be in the MRI for the duration of the procedure.
  • If you are allergic to certain contrast agents – a dye used during the imaging process

Contact Us

To speak with Dr. Pouratian about focused ultrasound or other essential tremor treatment options, please call us at 310-206-2189 or simply fill out our online contact form.

Sources

1 Clinical study information from Insightec
2 FDA approves first MRI guided

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