The last of 15 patients was treated in mid-December in the world’s first clinical trial using MR-guided focused ultrasound as a therapy for essential tremor. The single-site pilot study, which has been funded by the FUS Foundation, began in February 2011 at the University of Virginia with neurosurgeon W. Jeffrey Elias, MD serving as principal investigator. 

All study participants are being followed for three-months, and final clinical trial data is expected to be available in March 2012. Elias will present that data at the 2012 American Association of Neurosurgeons meeting, scheduled for April 14-19. 

Preliminary study data, which was presented by Elias at the 2011 Congress of Neurological Surgeons meeting in October, was highly promising. The study’s first 10 patients experienced a 78 percent improvement in contralateral tremor scores in their dominant hand, as assessed with the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor (CRST). Patients’ functional activities scores improved by 92 percent, as measured in the ‘Disability’ subsection of the CRST. Elias said that outcomes and complications were comparable to other procedures for tremor, including stereotactic thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation.

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