Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the nervous system which causes involuntary tremors of the hands, head, and voice. There are millions of people that suffer from this disease and it negatively impacted their life. Any kinds of movement are difficult to be made. An Israeli startup called Insightec created an FDA approved non-invasive treatment to help treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
The Exablate Neuro device by Insightec got approval by the FDA a few years back to treat tremors and Parkinson’s disease.
By using high-intensity focused ultrasound beams, the treatments help reduce tremors. These ultrasound beams pass through the patient’s skin, bone, fat, and muscle, and generate heat to ablate the vim point. The Vim nucleus of the thalamus is located in the brain area that manages muscle activity.
Essential tremor is a neurological, hereditary disorder that affects more than 41 million people throughout the world. Scientists have shown that this disorder can originate from the Vim. There is a difference between this disorder an Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease causes uncontrolled movements in the chin and legs, as well as motor stiffness and slowness. Additionally, there is a difference in the timing of the tremor.
The Exablate Neuro’s brain surgery with no incision uses high-intensity ultrasound and MRI to guide surgeons through the process. This allows surgeons to have a focused precision, avoiding burns to the adjacent healthy tissue and track thermal variations of the area they are targeting.
Additionally, Insightec’s software allows real-time feedback on changes in temperature and directs appropriate energy specifically to Vim point’s location. Before the treatment, surgeons direct soundwaves with low energy in the area and gradually increase the energy until they verify the target accuracy.
This procedure can be done with no anesthesia which can allow the surgeons to access potential side effects with communication with the patient. Additionally, patients can also tell the surgeons of any side-effects they might be feeling such as “tickling”. This allows the surgeons to adjust the ultrasound waves’ target. The patient can also be asked to perform simple tasks to confirm accuracy during this testing period. The surgeon applies more energy once everything is well and confirmed, creating a permanent lesion.
This procedure can get temperatures as high as 60 degrees. Patients are required to wear a special helmet that was designed to keep their skull cool during the entire procedure. This non-invasive treatment has little to no risk of complications. Patients that go through this procedure are discharged the same day.
The procedure can take 2-3 hours and patients can only experience minimal side effects. These side effects can include tingling feeling in the tongue and fingers and losing the sense of balance. Within a few months, these symptoms disappear.