Focused ULTRASOUND scalpel free surgery for the treatment of persons with Parkinson’s

Focused ULTRASOUND scalpel free surgery for the treatment of persons with Parkinson’s


“We are very encouraged by our initial experience with MRI-guided focused ultrasound. There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm from our patients and the public for treatments without incisions,” says Jeff Elias, MD, the trial’s principal investigator. “Parkinson’s disease is the next logical step on our roadmap of investigation.”

Experience with essential tremor

Elias previously conducted the first focused ultrasound trial for treatment of essential tremor (IRB-HSR #15307). All 15 trial participants were discharged the day after their procedures, and tremor improvement has been seen throughout follow-up.

“The technology allowed us to safely perform [the procedure] in all 15 of the patients, and none of them received any anesthesia,” Elias says. “They got a similar degree of tremor control that we see with other surgical procedures like deep brain stimulation.”

Elias is preparing the full findings of the essential tremor trial, and he expects to proceed to a larger, multicenter and international trial. Because the trial was the first of its kind, more work needs to be done to determine the long-term effectiveness of the procedure in treating essential tremor. As such, it remains investigational and is not yet available as a treatment outside a clinical trial.

To learn more about focused ultrasound at UVA, visit

8 Replies

  • The obvious point to make is that PD is different from Essential Tremor, and thus skepticism is in order until trials are done on PD patients.

  • A trial was successful in S Korea with a Parkinson's patient. Now the tests have moved to Virginia for next round.

  • Looks like it might be turn of the century then before it gets to Britain

  • The advantage of DBS is that it can be switched off. Is this reversible?

  • Just wondering: Why is it good to switch off?

  • I just mean that it is a reversible step to take should the results not please. To be honest, I haven't met anybody who wishes they hadn't had it done even those who had a few complications initially.

    However, any therapy which destroys brain cells would not be reversible and I think it needs a lot of development to ensure the accurate pinpointing of the area to focus on.

  • I was in a clinical trial at NYU and was very enthusiastic, but was eliminated but my dyskinesia was too much to measure my brain waves. It involved getting an ECG twice a week so I would have had to wash my hair in the doctor's office. Apparently it's been very helpful for depression.

  • FDA approves first MRI-guided focused ultrasound device to treat essential tremor. July 2016


    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first focused ultrasound device to treat essential tremor in patients who have not responded to medication. ExAblate Neuro uses magnetic resonance (MR) images taken during the procedure to deliver focused ultrasound to destroy brain tissue in a tiny area thought to be responsible for causing tremors.

    “Patients with essential tremor who have not seen improvement with medication now have a new treatment option that could help them to avoid more invasive surgical treatments,” said Carlos Peña, Ph.D., M.S., director of the division of neurological and physical medicine devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “As with other treatments for essential tremor, this new device is not a cure but could help patients enjoy a better quality of life.”

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