ISTU attendees were virtually transported via teleconference from the meeting space to a high-tech operating room at Rambam Medical Center to witness a live broadcast of a brain focused ultrasound treatment on a patient with essential tremor.
The three-hour procedure was conducted by neurosurgeon Menashe Zaaroor, neurophysiologist Alon Sinai, neurologist Ilana Schlesinger, and radiologist Dorit Goldsher while the patient was fully awake and involved no anesthesia or incisions in the scalp. Insightec’s Exablate Neuro system was used to focus multiple beams of acoustic energy to heat and destroy target cells in the thalamus using real-time MRI imaging to localize the target tissue and monitor for successful heating.
The results were immediate. The patient–a sixty-five-year-old baker–wanted to cry because for the first time in ten years she could return to serving people in her bakery. She hasn’t been able to cut slices of cake for her customers in years. In the post-treatment time while she recovered before clinical follow-up, the staff brought her a cake and a knife, and she cut pieces of cake for all the clinical staff involved in the treatment.
“We are excited to offer our patients a new, non-invasive therapy to control their movement disorders,” said Professor Menashe Zaaroor, Head of Neurosurgery at Rambam Medical Center. “Utilization of MR-guided focused ultrasound could help limit the life-altering side effect of essential tremor to make the disease more manageable and less debilitating.”
“The scientific level of the ISTU conference was outstanding. The audience included worldwide leading scientists and clinicians studying and using focused ultrasound to treat a variety of diseases in areas throughout the body. Nevertheless, many of them haven’t had the opportunity to witness an actual brain procedure, and it was very emotional and encouraging for them to see the technology in action,” said Jean-François (Jeff) Aubry, President of the International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound.
Photo credit: Pioter Fliter, Rambam Medical Center