MRI-guided ultrasound a non-surgical option for essential tremor

Essential tremor, a neurological disorder that affects millions of people, is not a terminal condition but is one that greatly impedes upon quality of life. Characterized by continuous and rhythmic shaking, most often occurring in the hands or voice, sufferers of essential tremor are unable to perform routine tasks such as tying shoelaces or picking up a fork.

In the past, treatments for essential tremor involved drilling into the brain to implant electrodes designed to shock the brain out of abnormal patterns caused by the disorder. Now, a non-invasive

therapy has been constructed thanks to MRI and ultrasound. A new study, A Randomized Trial of Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy for Essential Tremor, was published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research involved live-action MRI scanning of the brain which enabled researcher to zero in on the areas in the thalamus where the essential tremor has its origins. Once the area is in focus, the researchers zapped it with a ultra focused laser beam, a process known as a sonification. Some patients saw an immediate improvement of their symptoms, but the procedure is not yet free of side effects such as gait interferences and numbness.

““In the (treatment) group, we saw almost a 50 per cent reduction in tremor in the treated arm,” said Dr. Nir Lipsman, a Toronto neurosurgeon and lead researcher in the study. ““Our ultimate goal is to reduce the risk to zero and make this as safe a procedure as possible, while retaining its benefits.”

 

2016-08-26T16:31:28+00:00 August 26th, 2016|Brain MRI, Medical Imaging, MRI, MRI Canada, MRI Research, Radiology|