The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of the pilot trial for the use of focused ultrasound to treat patients with essential tremor. These Phase I results indicate that focused ultrasound can safely and effectively treat targeted areas deep in the brain. In focused ultrasound, more than 1,000 ultrasound waves are focused to a single site in the thalamus for the treatment.
The study included 15 patients with essential tremor that could not be managed by medication. Jeffrey Elias, MD, neurosurgeon at the University of Virginia and IETF Medical Advisory Board member, is the lead investigator of the study.
Phase I findings:
- Dominant hand tremor improved by 75 percent.
- Substantial improvements in daily disabilities (85 percent) and quality of life as assessed by clinicians and patients.
- Outcomes and complications were comparable to surgical procedures for tremor, including radio frequency thalamotomy and deep brain stimulation.
Phase III of this study will begin soon. For information on how to register, visit clinicaltrials.gov.
The IETF will continue to watch as results of focused ultrasound studies are posted. Large, randomized controlled trials will be required to assess the procedure’s efficacy and safety.
Watch a video featuring Billy Williams, the first patient treated with focused ultrasound for essential tremor.