New Brain Surgery Could Help People with Parkinson’s, Brain Cancer and Moreadmin
Dr. Rees Cosgrove and his team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are performing what The Boston Globe calls “a cutting-edge surgery for tremor, without the cutting.” Using focused ultrasound waves to treat essential tremors, Cosgrove and his team are able to permanently stop a patient’s tremor without the invasive techniques utilized by current treatments such as deep brain stimulation, which requires drilling burr holes in the skull, inserting electrodes into the thalamus – ta relay point in the brain for touch, pain, and other sensations – and linking them to a neural pacemaker implanted in the patient’s chest.
Cosgrove is the only person person performing this procedure in New England, and has treated over 50 patients using focused ultrasound treatment. During the procedure, the patient is placed in an MRI and remains awake in order to provide real-time feedback. The surgeon then focuses ultrasound waves on a specific spot deep in the brain, “burning up part of the circuitry of [the] tremor.”
As with any surgical procedure, there are some associated risks. For example, if the patient moves during the procedure, the ultrasound waves could inadvertently affect a different part of the brain, which could lead to slurred speech, numbness in the extremities, weakened limbs, and even cognitive difficulties.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved this treatment for essential tremor and Parkinson’s with tremor. Treatments of other forms of Parkinson’s are underway and global medical technology company Insightec is developing a trial for using this procedure to treat glioblastoma. The company is also looking into the possibility of using this method to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and some types of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Read more about this procedure in The Boston Globe.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, check out this useful guide on managing the finacial burden that can come with it.