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 neuropathic pain. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasonic 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 several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated. One mechanism is the production of precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling the destruction of the neuropathic pain without surgery. While there are several potential treatment targets, the central lateral thalamus has been the target of initial studies. Another mechanism of action is to use neuromodulation to decrease the response to the stimuli, which reduces the sensation of pain.
The primary options for treatment of neuropathic pain include medication and invasive surgery (e.g. deep brain stimulation, radiofrequency lesioning).
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing, blood clots, or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary. Focused ultrasound also offers precise targeting, which minimizes damage to non-targeted healthy brain.
Compared to deep brain stimulation, focused ultrasound is a single procedure, and does not require subsequent procedures/visits to replace batteries, repair broken wires, or adjust simulator settings. It also does not involve the collateral damage to healthy tissue or the risk of infections associated with implanting a foreign body.
University of Virginia
A clinical trial for treatment refractory, chronic trigeminal neuropathic pain. This study has been completed, and results are expected soon.
There is also a clinical trial at UVA is treating patients with severe opioid resistant pain from head or neck cancer with focused ultrasound.
Another clinical trial at UVA is treating controls and patients with chronic pain with neuromodulation from focused ultrasound and other devices.
University of Maryland.
This study targets the central lateral thalamus for treatment of patients with neuropathic pain.
Focused ultrasound treatment of painful neuromas (visualized on MRI) that are causing amputee stump pain has been completed. Study results are expected soon.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Regulatory approvals in Europe, Korea, Middle East and Russia for the treatment of neuropathic pain have been achieved.
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