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Focused Ultrasound

Patient in MRI machine and doctor touching fingers while conducting physiological test

Focused ultrasound is an incisionless treatment for patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. While it’s not right for every patient, focused ultrasound is an alternative to deep brain stimulation. It may also help if you haven’t responded to medication.

This innovative treatment uses MRI-guided ultrasound waves to treat areas of the brain where tremors start. These high-intensity waves heat targeted tissues enough to create a permanent lesion. This process can instantly improve tremors. And you won’t have any incisions or permanent implants.

How Focused Ultrasound is Performed

To prepare for your treatment, your care team will shave and apply a numbing medication to your head. A holding device will be secured to your head with 4 pins in the numbed areas. You will be awake and talking with your care team during treatment.

Your physician will then take a series of MRI images. They’ll also apply light doses of ultrasound energy to identify the appropriate spot in your brain for treatment. The MRI helps guide the procedure so the ultrasounds can heat targeted tissue while protecting the rest of your brain. Between each application of gradually increasing energy, your care team will ask you to perform tasks to evaluate improvement in your tremor. The entire treatment lasts about 2 to 3 hours.

You should be able to return to normal activities within a few days.

Benefits of Focused Ultrasound

Focused ultrasound can lead to an immediate reduction of tremors. It’s incisionless, so it’s good for patients who don’t want a surgical option like deep brain stimulation. Other benefits of focused ultrasound include:

  • Limited infection risk
  • No implants
  • No incisions
  • No maintenance
  • No radiation
  • No anesthesia
  • Speedy recovery

Patient Testimonial

Hear directly from the first VCU Health patient to have a focused ultrasound procedure to treat essential tremor. Read our VCU Health News Center story.

Learn More

To learn more, contact VCU Health Neurosurgery at (804) 628-5451 or email your name and contact information to FocusedUltrasound@vcuhealth.org.

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