- The Buzaev Clinic is the first focused ultrasound center in Russia to offer commercial treatments.
- The team has treated 65 patients with essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, and cervical dystonia.
- One of the site’s founders, interventional radiologist Igor Buzaev, CDBO, describes how the site is pioneering this noninvasive technology.
The Buzaev Clinic is the first focused ultrasound center in Russia offering commercial treatments to patients with essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, and cervical dystonia. They opened their doors in May 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and have treated 65 patients.
We recently spoke with Igor Buzaev, CDBO, an interventional radiologist and one of the site’s founders to learn about how they are pioneering this noninvasive technology in Russia.
What is the name of your site, and where are you located?
We are the intelligent neurosurgery clinic of V.S. Buzaev Memorial International Medical Center, and our address is 17/4, Richarda Zorge Street, Ufa, Russia, 450059. We can be reached at +7-800-300-8462 or email@example.com, and we encourage you to visit our English and Russian websites.
When was the clinic established and why?
For many years (and even today), doctors have performed surgery to fix something inside people. They cut through organs and tissues to access the place that needed to be cured. Then came noninvasive surgery. Vyacheslav Buzaev was one of the cardiac surgeons who brought noninvasive cardiac surgery, or interventional cardiology, to our region. Thanks to him, percutaneous coronary interventions (PCIs) and other cardiac interventions are made in our Republic.
We are honored to take noninvasive surgery to a new level in Russia, to one where incisions are not required, and our work is extremely predictable and controllable. We named this new stage in medical care in honor of Vyacheslav Buzaev.
The center is the first neurosurgical MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) center in Russia. It was established on February 1, 2019, by two doctors and a private investor, and we performed the first treatment on May 5, 2020.
Tell us about your team.
I am an interventional radiologist, doctor of science in medicine, and professor in the department of surgery at Bashkir State Medical University.
I originally pursued interventional radiology to continuing the tradition established by my father but switched to MRgFUS because I believe this is a new surgery.
Rezida Galimova, MD, PhD, is our CEO and director. She is also an associate professor in the department of neurosurgery at Bashkir State Medical University and an MBA candidate at Johns Hopkins University. As a neurosurgeon, she has always thought that it was wrong to access the depths of the brain through open wounds that damage it. Her dream has come true, because now it is possible to treat the brain without incisions.
Both Rezida and I are Lean Six Sigma Black Belts.
Our other team members include:
- Dmitry K. Krekotin, radiologist
- Gulnara N. Akhmadeeva, MD, PhD, neurologist
- Julia A. Sidorova, MD, neurologist
- Olga V. Kachemaeva, MD, PhD, neurologist
- Dinara R. Teregulova, MD, PhD, neurologist
- Adelya Biktimirova, MRI technician
- Julia Allabirdina, MRI technician
- Oxana V. Vladimirovna, chief nurse
Focused Ultrasound Information
What indications are you currently treating commercially using focused ultrasound?
We are now treating patients with essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease, and cervical dystonia.
Are you also conducting clinical trials?
We plan to start clinical trials for dystonia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression. We are open to collaborating with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and other centers in their trials.
Which focused ultrasound system does your facility use for patient care?
We use Insightec’s Exablate 4000 Neuro device.
When did you begin treating patients with focused ultrasound and why?
We established the center because we were inspired by this noninvasive technology. We treated our first patient on May 5, 2020.
How many physicians use the system to treat patients at your site?
During the treatment, three clinicians work with the MRI machine and others care for the patient.
What kind of support do you get from your focused ultrasound equipment manufacturer?
On April 11, 2021, Insightec supported the first Russian International Parkinson’s Day marathon. The following month, Insightec supported the first annual international MRgFUS conference, “Focused Ultrasound and Non-invasive Neurosurgery Congress (FUNNC).” World-famous specialists in MRgFUS, including Professor T. Taira, L.G. Quarante, Dipankar Nandi, and Wei Chief Chang, agreed to be the faculty of the conference thanks in part to Insightec.
How many different types of patients are being treated at this site, and how many total per year?
In the year and a half that we have been in operation, we have treated a total of 65 patients. Twenty-one of those were for essential tremor, forty-one were patients with Parkinson’s disease, and three suffered from cervical dystonia.
How do you attract patients to your practice?
We are hard-working in the search for patients, because focused ultrasound technology in Russia is not well known. We are offering medical tourism and have treated patients from eight countries. In Russia, the referral system has limitations between public and private centers and doctors, because sometimes it can be considered a conflict of interest. The greatest number of patients apply directly to our hotline.
We produced one fiction short film based on a true story called “The Spiral” and one short documentary about our center to promote the technology to the public. We are also organizing the second annual Focused Ultrasound Non-invasive Neurosurgery Congress to promote focused ultrasound among doctors. It will take place May 5, 2022, on the second anniversary of our first patient treatment.
How do you track patient outcomes?
We follow the patients for more than 12 months after their focused ultrasound procedure. We also guarantee a free second treatment in case of recurrence within 12 months, assuming the procedure can be completed safely and effectively.
Who coordinates your patient care and how do patients reach that person?
We find that potential patients tend to trust an experienced and knowledgeable doctor, so that is why our CEO and neurosurgeon Rezida Galimova personally takes care of MRgFUS candidates with the assistance of our team of doctors.
The process is as follows:
- The patient contacts our office by phone (+7-800-300-8462) or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We complete a one-hour online consultation.
- The patient has a CT scan to determine their skull density score.
- Then, we complete a second consultation and decide whether focused ultrasound is appropriate for that patient. We have a designated employee to take care of the patient from the moment of the decision to prepare any visa, transfers, or other needs.
- After the patient arrives on the day of treatment, our team performs an MRI and procedure planning.
- Then, we perform the focused ultrasound procedure.
- That evening, we take another MRI scan.
- Then the patient spends the evening in a hotel and can return home the next day.
Is the procedure reimbursed in Russia?
Because we are the first focused ultrasound center in Russia, our government has not yet established reimbursement for the procedure. It takes some time. We prepared the documents and have applied to the Ministry of Healthcare to get reimbursement.
What are your obstacles to treating?
Our biggest issues are the high cost for the patient and COVID-19 travel limitations. To overcome these obstacles, we do charity marathons to get financial support for the patients. We also have special offers for patients who work as a healthcare professionals or teachers and the first patient treated from a new country.
We opened our center during the COVID-19 pandemic, so that has been a constant challenge. We were the world-first neuro-MRgFUS center started with remote online proctorship from Insightec. We recorded the details here, at https://new-surgery.com.
Why is this technology important to your patients?
Focused ultrasound technology is important to the patients because it is incisionless and predictable. We do not make irreversible changes in the brain tissue until we are sure it is safe and effective. We can achieve sub-millimeter precision, and we can avoid most of the complications associated with traditional surgery.