FDA Approves Focused Ultrasound for Tremor-Dominant Parkinson’s Disease


FDA Approves Focused Ultrasound Therapy for Tremor-Dominant Parkinson’s Disease

Insightec's Exablate Neuro device 

On December 18, 2018, device manufacturer Insightec announced that their Exablate Neuro device has earned approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease whose main symptom is tremor. 

Focused ultrasound has been shown to help reduce Parkinson's disease symptoms, which include tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, and postural instability. It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of Parkinson’s patients have what is considered tremor-dominant Parkinson’s. 

"This is another validation of a great technology," said Jeff Elias, MD, of the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine. "Patients are attracted to the less invasive aspects of focused ultrasound. Now Parkinson's patients, for whom tremor is their primary disability, have more treatment options than conventional cranial surgery.”

This approval was based on a clinical trial of 27 patients at UVA and Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, led by Elias. The results of that study, which was funded in part by the Foundation, were published in JAMA Neurology in December 2017. The previous year, the FDA approved focused ultrasound to treat essential tremor, a benign condition with similar symptoms. 

“This ruling by the FDA is an important step in treating many patients with a variety of symptoms from Parkinson’s disease,” said Foundation Chairman Neal F. Kassell, MD. “We congratulate the team at Insightec on this achievement, and the Foundation will continue to support research to make focused ultrasound widely available to patients with a variety of disorders.”

Further Parkinson's Research
There are currently three clinical trials investigating focused ultrasound to treat a larger portion of the Parkinson’s disease population – those with dyskinesia symptoms associated with the disease.
For Patients

We encourage all Parkinson’s disease patients to consult their physician to determine if their disease can be considered tremor-dominant. 

Patients with Tremor-Dominant Parkinson’s disease can inquire about treatment at any of the sites that are currently treating essential tremor or Parkinson's disease. Find a treatment site >

Patients who are interested in a Parkinson’s dyskinesia clinical trial can find more information, including participating sites and contact information, on our website.