The first patient has been treated in a clinical trial at the University of Virginia Health System exploring focused ultrasound to treat chronic trigeminal neuropathic pain. The blinded, randomized trial is using Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system to assess the safety and initial effectiveness of using focused ultrasound to ablate or destroy a target in the brain implicated in transmitting craniofacial pain. Researchers caution that this study is not for the more common ailment, trigeminal neuralgia.
“Trigeminal neuropathy is typically caused by injury to the nerve whether it results from trauma, a cranial procedure, infection, or tumor infiltration,” explains W. Jeffrey Elias, MD, a neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia who is leading the trial. “The only option available today is medication, and unfortunately, most patients find that to be a poor treatment. This is often a problem without options, and although this is a very early stage trial, we are hopeful that we can provide some relief to these patients.”
The trial will attempt to replicate promising results from Swiss researcher Daniel Jeanmonod, MD, and his team published in Neurosurgical Focus in January 2012. Participants in that study reported a 49% mean pain relief at their three-month follow-up, and that number grew to 57% at one year after treatment.
Following treatment, patients will report on their pain levels as compared to their pre-treatment baseline. Those patients will be followed for at least three months after treatment to assess the treatment’s durability.
Patients who are interested in taking part in this study should contact study coordinator Matthew Patterson at 434-243-7336 or FUSbrain@virginia.edu.