November 2017 Research Roundup


Focused ultrasound was FDA approved to treat essential tremor in July 2016. To improve the procedure, treatment teams are evaluating the effectiveness of current techniques and studying new methods for choosing, targeting, and confirming ablation sites. Meanwhile, researchers in Italy explore how often focused ultrasound can be safely and effectively repeated for glaucoma. Seattle-based Kona Medical’s phase II, randomized, sham-controlled clinical trial for hypertension failed to find effective parameters.


Clinical Improvement Associated with Targeted Interruption of the Cerebellothalamic Tract following MR-guided Focused Ultrasound for Essential Tremor.
The team at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian Hospital investigated the use of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography-based targeting of the dentatorubrothalamic tract to improve clinical outcomes in patients undergoing focused ultrasound thalamotomy for essential tremor. Does the use of DTI for visualizing the white matter tracts allow fine correction of the treatment location, improve the procedure, and confirm its success? See the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Transcranial MRI-guided High-intensity Focused Ultrasound for Treatment of Essential Tremor: A Pilot Study on the Correlation between Lesion Size, Lesion Location, Thermal Dose, and Clinical Outcome.
A retrospective study conducted at Stanford University sought to correlate lesion size, lesion location, and thermal dose with clinical outcomes in patients treated with focused ultrasound for essential tremor. Did their analyses of the images acquired at one month and at one year after treatment in eight patients show high correlations in each of these areas? See the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

Safety and Efficacy of Multiple Cyclocoagulation of Ciliary Bodies by High-intensity Focused Ultrasound in Patients with Glaucoma.
Is it safe to repeat focused ultrasound treatments for glaucoma, and do repeated treatments improve the procedure’s efficacy? A research group in Italy sought to answer these questions by conducting a clinical trial in 40 patients with uncontrolled glaucoma. At 12 months, complete success, as measured by an intraocular pressure of greater than 5 mmHg and less than or equal to 21 mmHg without hypotensive medication adjunction and no major or vision-threatening complications, was achieved in 85% of treated eyes with a maximum of three procedures and a significant reduction in medication. See Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology.

Phase II Randomized Sham-controlled Study of Renal Denervation for Individuals with Uncontrolled Hypertension – WAVE IV.
A group of international researchers working with Kona Medical have published final data from the WAVE IV phase II clinical trial using focused ultrasound-based renal denervation to lower blood pressure. The study was stopped prematurely when the antihypertensive efficacy of the externally delivered focused ultrasound was not proven greater than the sham effect. See Journal of Hypertension.