News ArchivesRead News
Focused ultrasound shows promise for treating Parkinson's tremor
Friday November 17, 2017
Science Daily - An initial test to determine if a scalpel-free form of brain surgery can reduce tremor caused by Parkinson's disease has produced encouraging results. Further research is warranted, the researchers conclude in a paper published by the scientific journal JAMA Neurology.
The small pilot study was led by Jeff Elias, MD, of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and also was conducted at Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle. Twenty-seven participants with tremor-dominant Parkinson's disease were enrolled in the study; the research team randomly assigned 20 to be treated with focused ultrasound waves on their brains, while the others received a fake procedure, to account for any potential placebo effect. (They were later offered the opportunity to have the actual procedure). All had tremor that had resisted medical treatment, and all continued taking their existing Parkinson's medication.
The trial participants who received the focused ultrasound procedure had a 62 percent median improvement in their hand tremor three months later. Those who underwent a sham procedure also improved to a lesser degree, however, suggesting some placebo effect. Additional testing is needed to better establish the effectiveness of focused ultrasound for Parkinson's tremor, the researchers concluded.
The median age of trial participants was 67.8 years, and 26 were male. The most significant side effects reported were mild numbness on one side of the body, which improved, and numbness of the face and finger, which were persistent. Two subjects also experienced partial weakness that recovered or improved during the study. (The procedure has since been modified to mitigate this risk of weakness, the researchers say.)
The full paper is available to read at JAMA Neurology for free.
About Focused Ultrasound
Focused ultrasound already has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of essential tremor, the most common movement disorder. That approval came after Elias and his colleagues at UVA pioneered the approach. Other researchers are also evaluating focused ultrasound's potential for treating many other conditions, including breast cancer, brain tumors, epilepsy and pain.
The technology works by focusing sound waves inside the body to generate a tiny hot spot, much like a magnifying glass focuses light. By carefully controlling this process, researchers can interrupt faulty brain circuits or destroy unwanted tissue. Unlike traditional brain surgery, there is no need to drill or cut into the skull. Magnetic resonance imaging lets them monitor the location and intensity of the procedure in real time, an important safety feature when making permanent changes to the brain.
The researchers believe that a larger, multicenter study is needed to better define the potential role of focused ultrasound in managing Parkinson's disease.
"Our findings suggest that the patients likely to benefit from this approach are those for whom tremor reduction is enough to improve their quality of life," said UVA researcher Binit Shah, MD.
Materials provided by University of Virginia Health System. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Aaron E. Bond, Binit B. Shah, Diane S. Huss, Robert F. Dallapiazza, Amy Warren, Madaline B. Harrison, Scott A. Sperling, Xin-Qun Wang, Ryder Gwinn, Jennie Witt, Susie Ro, W. Jeffrey Elias. Safety and Efficacy of Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy for Patients With Medication-Refractory, Tremor-Dominant Parkinson Disease. JAMA Neurology, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.3098
Recent NewsDec 8 - New technique scours the genome for genes that combat disease
Dec 8 - Restless sleep may be an early sign of Parkinson's, dementia
Dec 1 - Defects in cell's 'waste disposal system' linked to Parkinson's
Dec 1 - Dual virtual reality/treadmill exercises promote brain plasticity in Parkinson's patients
Nov 17 - 'Moving Day' participant is not letting young-onset Parkinson's disease stop him
Nov 17 - Focused ultrasound shows promise for treating Parkinson's tremor
Nov 17 - New research to target air pollution as a potential trigger for Parkinson’s
Nov 17 - This device will let you feel what it's like to suffer from Parkinson's
Nov 10 - How does Parkinson's disease influence depression?
Nov 10 - House votes to repeal ObamaCare's Medicare cost-cutting board
Nov 10 - Microsoft shows off watch that quiets Parkinson's tremors
Nov 3 - Utah group battling Parkinson's disease with boxing
Nov 3 - UVA-LED STUDY EXAMINES POTENTIAL OF SOUND WAVES TO MANAGE PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Oct 27 - Herbicide's link to Parkinson's disease
Oct 27 - NTU Singapore, KAIST scientists discover new mechanism that causes Parkinsonian symptoms
Oct 27 - 70,000 Washingtonians face higher insurance costs after Trump order, officials say
Oct 18 - Brain disconnections may contribute to Parkinson's hallucinations
Oct 18 - Fighting Parkinson's disease through dance
Oct 17 - Scientists Identify Structure of PINK1, Key Parkinson’s-protective Protein
Oct 17 - Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson's risk by 28 percent, study finds