Ten-patient functional neurosurgery feasibility study shows potential for treating brain disorders with MR-guided focused ultrasound
A groundbreaking new study has paved the way for clinical studies on the noninvasive treatment of a broad spectrum of brain disorders including Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, stroke, and brain tumors.
A team at the University of Zürich, in Switzerland, has completed a pilot study using MR-guided focused ultrasound to treat 10 patients with neuropathic pain. The origin of pain in these patients included post-amputation phantom limb syndrome, nerve injury, stroke, trigeminal neuralgia, and post-herpetic neuralgia from shingles. The findings will be published in a forthcoming issue of Annals of Neurology.
The study was partially funded by the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation, which funds translational and clinical research into new therapeutic applications of MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS).
The preliminary results in these patients are comparable to those obtained with conventional therapy – radiofrequency ablation – an invasive procedure that involves making an incision in the scalp, drilling a hole in the skull, inserting an electrode through normal brain tissue into the thalamus, and using radiofrequency electromagnetic waves to create the lesion.
Functional neurosurgery involves alteration of the brain’s circuitry to treat various neurological conditions such as pain, movement, and behavioral disorders. It is a growing discipline that has developed over more than 60 years. In general, treatment involves creating lesions (destruction) in a neural circuit using radiofrequency ablation, or placing an electronic deep brain stimulator (DBS) to modulate the activity of a circuit. Ablation has the advantage of treating the patient with a single procedure; however, it involves the risk of long-term neurological complications if the location of the lesion is suboptimal.
Use of DBS has the advantage of reversibility in the event of improper location, but is far..
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