Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive, 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).
Focused ultrasound is non-invasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound healing or infection. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue, and it can be repeated, if necessary.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
A clinical trial is treating patients with chronic pain. Patients can be added to this trial by invitation only.
University of Virginia
A clinical trial for treatment refractory, chronic trigeminal neuropathic pain. This study has been completed, and published 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 patients with chronic pain with neuromodulation from focused ultrasound and other devices.
University of Maryland
This study targeting the central lateral thalamus for treatment of patients with neuropathic pain has been completed, and published results are expected soon.
A new study for patients with trigeminal neuralgia has begun at the University of Maryland.
Focused ultrasound treatment of painful neuromas (visualized on MRI) that are causing amputee stump pain has been completed. Study results are expected soon.
There is a clinical trial in Milan, Italy, for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
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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