Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Clinical Trials SquareFocused 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. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound can produce several biological actions that may help with addiction. A leading action is neuromodulation, which uses focused ultrasound to alter the nervous activity of the target.

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 non-invasive and non-pharmacologic technique.
  • Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target(s) without damaging surrounding tissue.
  • It can be repeated, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

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.

Notable Papers

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. 

The Focused Ultrasound Foundation Psychiatric Workshop Summary, October, 2017


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