Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with addiction. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain, known be involved in the craving or other manifestations of addiction.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound can produce neuromodulation, which alters the nervous activity of the target cells which may decrease the craving for narcotics.
In the case of opioid abuse, the goal is to decrease the patients' cravings for the drug. Though still in the early stages of development, for certain patients, these techniques have potential to provide a noninvasive, and more effective, treatment for addiction. Please see “Addiction, Other” for additional work using focused ultrasound on other addictions.
Focused ultrasound is a noninvasive and non-pharmacologic technique that can reach the desired target(s) without damaging surrounding tissue. It can also be repeated, if necessary.
A clinical trial is ongoing at West Virginia University using focused ultrasound to modulate the impulses that stimulate desire.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for addiction is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Mahoney JJ 3rd, Hanlon CA, Marshalek PJ, Rezai AR, Krinke L. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, deep brain stimulation, and other forms of neuromodulation for substance use disorders: Review of modalities and implications for treatment. J Neurol Sci. 2020 Sep 20;418:117149. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2020.117149.
Mooney SJ, Nobrega JN, Levitt AJ, Hynynen K. Antidepressant effects of focused ultrasound induced blood-brain-barrier opening. Behav Brain Res. 2018 Apr 16;342:57-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2018.01.004. Epub 2018 Jan 8.
Deveci E, Kilic A, Yilmaz O, Nabi A, Ergun AS, Bozkurt A, Kurtulmuş A, Öztürk A, Eşrefoğlu M, Aydın MS, Şahan E Kırpınar İ. The effects of focused ultrasound pulsation of nucleus accumbens in opioid-dependent rats. Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2019 Jul.