The Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound, a non-invasive ultrasound treatment for hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease

Source: Taipei Neuroscience Institute

Published on 2022-05-10

Hand tremors have been found to greatly affect the quality of daily life for those living with such conditions.

The “Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound” (MRgFUS) treats the condition in a non-surgical and non-invasive way. The Taiwan Food and Drug Administration officially approved the treatment for Parkinson’s disease with overt tremors in January 2022, which will lead to more patients benefitting from the treatment.

The difference between an essential tremor and an overt tremor in Parkinson’s disease is that an essential tremor occurs when “trying to perform a certain action”. An essential tremor will lead to the hand trembling unconsciously when the hand stretches to a certain position, or when eating, writing, brushing the teeth, or shaving for example. An overt tremor due to the inability of the brain to produce enough of the neurotransmitter “dopamine”, leading to neurological degeneration, and tremors even when stationary and doing nothing.

Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound Apparatus, no surgery, no scarring, no impact on other healthy tissues

At present, there is no cure for tremors resulted from Parkinson’s disease, but symptoms are relieved through medication, surgery, and now another treatment option, “Magnetic Resonance-guided Focused Ultrasound”. Using magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the location, ultrasonic waves are focused on the location of the brain related to the tremors, and heat energy is generated to terminate abnormal neural activity and achieve the desired therapeutic effects. The biggest difference is that there is no need for surgery, no scarring, and no impact on other healthy tissues. Unlike previous surgeries the patient is able to stay awake throughout the whole process, there is the possibility of repeated attempts, the effect of the process can be confirmed at any time and the exact location of the brain that causes the tremor can be found for treatment. The curative effect can be confirmed after completion.

The team at the Taipei Neuroscience Institute has successfully improved the tremors of many patients to date through the use of magnetic resonance navigation focused ultrasound therapy equipment. The team is conducting more active and in-depth research on essential tremors and Parkinson’s disease with dominant tremors, as well as working towards the improved integration of clinical data analysis, and better treatment methods.