Workshop Creates Roadmap for Brain Simulation


Thirty leading engineers, physicists, and clinicians from 17 organizations convened at the Brain Workshop on Treatment Envelope & Simulation in Charlottesville February 2-3. They gathered to discuss ways to create accurate computer simulations to assess expanding the treatable area of the brain (treatment envelope), to facilitate patient selection, and to predict and prevent unwanted secondary effects like skull heating.

TreatmentEnvelopeWorkshop 049_psFocused ultrasound has been successful in treating targets in the center of the brain for movement disorders and neuropathic pain. To increase the utility of the technology to treat brain tumors, epilepsy, and other disorders, this “treatment envelope” of focused ultrasound needs to be expanded to include peripheral targets.

As an alternative to costly and potentially risky human research, treatments in these peripheral locations could be modeled with computer simulation to determine which areas can be effectively targeted prior to attempts to treat patients. There are computer models for simulating focused ultrasound treatments in various parts of the body, but none have been validated for the brain.

The Workshop was held to foster the development of computer applications that will serve as tools for selecting patients for treatment based on CT skull characteristics and target locations and for the prediction of the required power and duration of ultrasound therapy to treat an individual patient.

“The workshop provided the perfect setting for dialog between the physicists and engineers who are studying the acoustic characteristics of the technology and the clinicians who want to effectively apply the treatment,” said John Snell, PhD, Technical Director of the Foundation’s Brain Program.

The experts created a roadmap of projects leading to computer simulation for expanding the treatment envelope and for patient selection and treatment planning.

The group will create a white paper with timelines, milestones, and roles and responsibilities to pair with each of these research projects. The goal is to complete this work within six months.

Projects include:

  • Validating the accuracy of the computer simulation by measuring pressures produced by the focused ultrasound transducer using a hydrophone positioned at different locations within human skulls and comparing it with the pressures predicted by the model.
  • Determining whether computer simulation can predict treatment effects by comparing real treatment results in patients with the predicted temperature changes from the computer simulation.
  • Analyzing data from previous clinical treatments to develop an understanding of the relationship between focused ultrasound input power and heating of the targeted tissue.