The latest study has found a new treatment method that effectively reduces and relieves tremors in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease (PD). In this method, pulses of focused ultrasound are applied to the brain for an effective and safe reduction in the tremors.
This may ultimately enhance the quality of life in individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) tremor or essential tremor (ET). The study findings will be represented at the annual meeting of RSNA.
Parkinson’s disease and Essential tremors are movement disorders, influencing millions of individuals worldwide. Whereas, tremors – characteristic of PD and ET, are involuntary and rhythmic movements of muscles that lead to shaking of one or more body parts. But most of the time, hands are affected by this condition.
Some alternative treatment options are available for PD patients who don’t show any improvement by medical therapy. Two of the previously used treatment options are surgical procedures and deep brain stimulation.
In the former one, a small electrode is connected to a pulse generator and then implanted in the brain. Whereas, the pulse generator is inserted in the chest in a way similar to a pacemaker.
Recently available, MRgFUS (magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound) thalamotomy is a new and safe treatment option to relieve tremors. In this minimally invasive method, a small part of the thalamus is heated and destroyed via the use of focused beams of sound energy.
This method will relieve tremors on the opposite side of the body, meaning exposing the left side of the brain to focused sound energy beams will cause a reduction in tremors on the right side of the body and vice versa.
According to Federico Bruno, a radiologist at the University of L’Aquila in L’Aquila, Italy, being minimally invasive, this procedure is more effective and safer than deep brain stimulation as it reduces the odds of complications caused by infections and bleeding.
Moreover, in contrast to deep brain stimulation that needs some time for electrostimulation, this new treatment procedure provides an immediate effect. The MRgFUS thalamotomy is also well-tolerated by fragile patients and needs hospitalization for a relatively short period.
For this study, the research team enrolled 39 patients. On average, these patients aged 64.5 years and had experienced the symptoms of ET (18 patients) or PD (21 patients) for about more than 10 years. These patients suffered from disabling tremors that hadn’t been relieved by other treatments.
The quality of life and tremor severity was assessed in the patients before and immediately after treatment with MRgFUS thalamotomy. These parameters were also assessed over the course of the proceeding year.
The research team found that among these patients, 37 showed an immediate and significant reduction in tremors. Whereas, a significant improvement was also observed in their quality of life.
About three years ago, the FDA approved the use of MRgFUS thalamotomy for the treatment of neurological diseases. But still, only a few patients have an idea about this new treatment method. And a limited number of specialized centers have the technology required for this procedure.