FIRST UK PATIENT TREATMENTS WITH FOCUSED ULTRASOUND FOR ESSENTIAL TREMOR AT IMPERIAL COLLEGE
Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder, affecting around one million people in the United Kingdom, and millions more worldwide. The most common symptom is hand tremor, but tremors can also affect the head, arms, voice, legs and torso. Patients often experience difficulty performing everyday tasks such as eating, dressing, writing, holding objects and even speaking. Patients who fail to respond to medication may be treated with surgical procedures such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) or thalamotomy.
A medical team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust lead by Mr Dipankar Nandi, MD (Neurosurgeon), Professor Wladyslav Gedroyc, MD (Radiologist), and Dr Peter Bain (Neurologist) are performing non-invasive MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamic lesioning for treating essential tremor using the Exablate Neuro as part of a trial. The treatment starts with applying low energy ultrasound waves under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify the small part (3 mm X 3mm X 5 mm) of the brain that is thought to be responsible for causing tremors, part of the thalamus and sub –thalamic region. Once located, high intensity ultrasound waves are applied to heat and destroy only the target tissue. The whole procedure is performed while the patient is fully conscious and lying on the treatment bed in an MRI scanner.
The result for certain patients is an immediate and significant reduction of their tremor. Non-invasive focused ultrasound treatment minimizes risk of infection, and the risks of bleeding, stroke or other surgical complications and allows patients to return home usually the same day.
Mr Dipankar Nandi, Consultant Neurosurgeon who is performing the thalamotomy with MGFUS, 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.”
“INSIGHTEC is the pioneer in non-invasive treatments. 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,” said Rick Schallhorn, INSIGHTEC’S Vice President Neurosurgery.