A promising new, noninvasive treatment for patients with essential tremor is making headlines this week. As announced yesterday in a Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation press release, a clinical trial at the University of Virginia has successfully used MR-guided focused ultrasound to treat its first patient - a man who had been unable to use his dominant right hand for more than a decade due to essential tremor. The focused ultrasound procedure completely stopped the man's tremor, and doctors are hopeful that it will not return. The treatment involved no anesthesia, incisions or ionizing radiation and targeted the thalamus, an area deep within the brain that has been associated with movement disorders.
The Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation is funding the UVA trial, which is being conducted under an FDA-aproved protocol and could treat as many as 15 patients. The Foundation is also funding a parallel clinical trial at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, which is scheduled to begin later in 2011 under a Health Canada-approved protocol. Click here to read the Foundation's press release.