Bipolar Disorder

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Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, therapeutic technology that could transform the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with bipolar disorder. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain without damaging surrounding normal tissue.

How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces therapeutic effects that are being evaluated. Focused ultrasound energy can be used to increase or decrease the brain signals that are released from the target tissue, with the goal of returning these to a more appropriate spectrum of responses to circumstances.

The primary options for treatment of bipolar disorder include medications and behavioral therapy.

For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a more effective treatment then current conventional therapy.


  • Focused ultrasound is noninvasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound healing or infection.
  • Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue.
  • It can be repeated, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is using neuromodulation to help patients with bipolar disorder in Austin, Texas.

A clinical trial, primarily targeting depression and anxiety, is also treatment patients with bipolar II disorder, in Providence, Rhode Island.           

Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement

Focused ultrasound treatment for bipolar disorder is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.

Notable Papers

Nüssel M, Zhao Y, Knorr C, Regensburger M, Stadlbauer A, Buchfelder M, Del Vecchio A, Kinfe T. Deep Brain Stimulation, Stereotactic Radiosurgery and High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Targeting the Limbic Pain Matrix: A Comprehensive Review. Pain Ther. 2022 Jun;11(2):459-476. doi: 10.1007/s40122-022-00381-1. Epub 2022 Apr 26. PMID: 35471626 

Niu X, Yu K, He B  Transcranial focused ultrasound induces sustained synaptic plasticity in rat hippocampus. Brain Stimul. 2022 Mar-Apr;15(2):352-359. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2022.01.015. Epub 2022 Jan 30. PMID: 35104664

Nazer B, Giraud D, Zhao Y, Hodovan J, Elman MR, Masri A, Gerstenfeld EP, Lindner JR. High-intensity ultrasound catheter ablation achieves deep mid-myocardial lesions in vivo. Heart Rhythm. 2021 Apr;18(4):623-631. doi: 10.1016/j.hrthm.2020.12.027. Epub 2020 Dec 29. PMID: 33385570

Chang JG, Jung HH, Kim SJ, Chang WS, Jung NY, Kim CH, Chang JW. Bilateral thermal capsulotomy with magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound for patients with treatment-resistant depression: A proof-of-concept study. Bipolar Disord. 2020 Nov;22(7):771-774. doi: 10.1111/bdi.12964. Epub 2020 Jul 16. PMID: 32580242

Click here for additional references from PubMed. 

Clinical Trials