Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with thromboembolic stroke. 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 several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated. One mechanism is the disruption of blood clots, which allows reperfusion of ischemic tissue. Another mechanism is the temporary opening of the blood-brain barrier, which enables entry of stem cells into the area of the stroke. A third mechanism is neuromodulation, which can increase regional blood flow to ischemic areas. All are still in the early stage, and more work is needed before this research can reach the clinic. Please note that there is another major cause of stroke, listed separately under “Stroke, intracellular hemorrhage.”
The primary options for treatment of stroke include medications with the possible inclusion of surgery.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary.
There is a clinical trial ongoing in North Carolina using low intensity focused ultrasound to help with upper extremity motor deficits after a stroke.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for thromboembolic stroke is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
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