On July 23 and 24, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation’s Brain Program hosted its first invitational mini-workshop to tackle important imaging problems with the help of a world-class team of MR experts from academia and industry. This workshop was a highly successful collaborative problem-solving session that generated solutions for improving the efficiency and safety of transcranial focused ultrasound treatments.
|Brain Program mini-workshop – more details
Q. What issues were discussed?
John Snell: The top three issues addressed were:
Although many more imaging topics were discussed, the clinical solution of even just these three has the potential of reducing the treatment time by an hour or more (currently treatment time for ET is 4-5 hours), perhaps even cutting the time in half.
|Hands-on problem solving was a key part of the Brain Program mini-workshop. Shown during a work session at the UVA Focused Ultrasound Center are: (standing left to right) Dennis Parker (Utah), Chang-Sheng Mei (Harvard) and Craig Meyer (UVA); (seated, left to right) Kim Butts-Pauley (Stanford), Anthony Vu (GE Healthcare), Matt Eames (FUS Foundation) and Eyal Zadicario (InSightec).|
“Some of the solutions identified during the workshop will be applied in the very next brain patient procedure,” says John Snell, PhD, Brain Program technical director. “The solutions are expected to reduce treatment time by improving the quality of the MRI scans.”
Conducted at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the workshop brought together representatives from industry (InSightec and GE Healthcare) and neurosurgeons, MR engineers and MR physicists from leading academic centers in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, Utah, the University of California San Francisco, UVA and Vanderbilt) and Europe (Institut Langevin and University Children’s Hospital, Zurich).
|“The workshop was highly productive in finding concrete solutions for many technical issues and serves as a great example of how the Foundation opens up channels of communication and catalyzes collaboration among academic researchers, clinicians and industry. We hope to replicate this experience in the future.”
– John Snell, PhD
Following the workshop, Eyal Zadicario, director of Neuro Programs for InSightec, wrote, “Getting this team together is a great achievement for the Foundation and a landmark example of collaboration between academia and industry.”
Workshop focused on real cinical needs
The workshop kicked-off with a clinical update from W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, the neurosurgeon who led the recent essential tremor study at UVA. He discussed the evolution of treatments for Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor, presented the essential tremor study results, described step-by-step how procedures were performed and indicated where imaging improvements could significantly decrease treatment time and increase safety. His presentation served to focus the subsequent workshop discussions on real clinical needs.
Next, Zadicario provided an overview of the technical aspects of the ExAblate Neuro system and presented a set of case reports illustrating the imaging issues experienced at all brain sites.
“The first day saw a lively, collegial discussion among all participants. The tone of the meeting was completely different from what we typically see at a presentation-driven meeting,” Snell observes. “It was great to see all the participants working together as a unified team to solve the presented problems.”
Attendees spent the second day of the workshop at the UVA Focused ultrasound Center engaged in hands-on experiments and problem-solving. “They determined that a really meaningful number of imaging artifacts/issues can be addressed in the short term. For example, the group demystified sources of several signal-to-noise and image artifact problems and went on to solve them during the following hands-on session. This will immediately improve image quality in the very next patient treatment,” Snell reports. “Other imaging solutions and improvements proposed during the workshop will require vendor implementation, but clinical availability shouldn’t be far off.”
Dialog is continuing via Foundation’s online Collaborative Research Network (CRN)
While face-to-face discussions have ended, workshop participants are continuing their dialog via the Foundation’s online CRN. In addition to posting a digest of workshop discussions and the MR data acquired during the meeting, they continue to exchange ideas and suggestions online. As Snell observes, “The CRN provided real value during and following the meeting by documenting the hands-on discussion and results and by fostering ongoing dialog about the issues we addressed. It has also been highly useful as a tool for disseminating the results of the meeting.”
Written by Ellen C., McKenna
|Q. What longer-term research projects were identified?
John Snell: Three projects were identified: