Exablate Neuro Focused Ultrasound
The University of Kansas Health System is our region’s first provider to offer an innovative, minimally invasive treatment called Exablate® Neuro. It is for patients with essential tremor or Parkinson's disease when hand tremor is the main symptom.
Exablate Neuro applies focused ultrasound precisely to the spot in the brain causing hand tremor. It destroys this tissue without risk or damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. No surgical incisions are needed.
Conditions treated with Exablate Neuro
Exablate Neuro is used for patients with essential tremor or with Parkinson’s disease when hand tremor is the primary symptom and medications have not been successful. Patients with essential tremor must be at least 22 years old to receive this focused ultrasound treatment. Patients with tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease must be at least 30 years old.
Exablate Neuro is not suitable for all patients. You may not be eligible if you have:
- Metallic implants, such as pacemakers, neurostimulators, spine or bone fixation devices, total joint replacements, metal clips, screws or cochlear implants
- Heart or spine issues that may make it difficult to tolerate the treatment or to lie still for about 3 hours
- Extensive scarring on the scalp
- Tumors inside the skull
- Health conditions that require dialysis
- Active infection or severe hematological, neurological or other uncontrolled disease
Talk with your doctor to determine the best treatment options for you.
Benefits of treatment
This innovative treatment offers diverse benefits.
- Patients experience immediate results with a single treatment.
- Exablate Neuro treatment requires no surgical incisions. This reduces risk of infection and shortens recovery time.
- Focused ultrasound requires no implants and no radiation.
- The procedure requires only local anesthesia. Patients are relaxed and awake while staff continually monitor their comfort.
- Only brief hospital stays are needed. The treatment usually takes just a few hours.
- Exablate Neuro is proven safe with minimal potential side effects.
How MRI-guided, focused ultrasound works
Built upon advanced technology from INSIGHTEC, Exablate Neuro delivers focused ultrasound energy deep into the brain without requiring surgical incisions. Neurosurgeons use Exablate to precisely target the brain tissue that is causing tremors. By ablating the tissue – in effect, burning away the problem cells – surgeons can safely reduce or stop tremors.
With no surgical incisions necessary, focused ultrasound has been shown to provide immediate tremor reduction with little or no hospitalization required. Many patients show immediate improvement.
Innovative focused ultrasound
Voiceover:During the treatment, you will lay down on the treatment bed inside the MRI scanner. The medical team will be in the control room and you will be conscious and able to communicate with them. Your head will be positioned in the focused ultrasound helmet, which is filled with water, and you will have a blanket to keep you warm.
Voiceover:You will be given a “stop sonication” button if for any reason you want to stop the procedure. MR images are taken to plan the treatment.
Voiceover:Your physician will first apply light doses of ultrasound energy to identify the right spot in your brain for treatment. Then full intensity ultrasound energy will be applied. The temperature at the target rises high enough to create a small ablation, or burn, and provide a therapeutic effect, reducing the hand tremor. The treatment bed will move in and out of the MRI.
Voiceover:After each application of ultrasound energy, you will be asked to do tasks such as drawing spirals. This is so the physician can evaluate the improvement of your tremor and any potential side effects.
Voiceover:Although individual results may vary, you should notice improvement during the treatment itself. At the end of the procedure, a final MRI scan will be done to assess the treatment. The frame will be removed, and you will go to a recovery room.
Voiceover:Your physician will let you know when you can go home and when you will need to return for any follow-up visit.
Voiceover:Within days you can return to normal activities.
The treatment process
To plan your procedure, your care team will capture MRI images and use them to pinpoint the area to be treated.
During treatment, you will lie in the MRI scanner with your head fitted into a helmet-like device. The helmet circulates cool water around your head to prevent overheating during the ultrasound. The energy is first applied at a low level. Your doctor will ask you to provide feedback on the effect this has on your hand tremor. You will be engaged throughout the process and may be asked to report the sensation you feel and to perform tasks like writing or tracing lines to monitor improvement of your tremor. Your doctor will then adjust the Exablate treatment in response to your input, increasing the energy level to perform the amount of ablation needed.
The focused ultrasound energy waves then pass through the helmet to meet at a point deep in your brain. The energy makes a small lesion in the thalamus, a structure within the brain. The treatment targets the tissue where the tremors originate.
Exablate Neuro treatment usually takes a few hours.
After treatment, you’ll be transferred to a recovery room for monitoring. Most patients will go home the same day. Most can return to work and other activities in a couple of days. Your doctor will give you any discharge instructions. Often, these include only rest and over-the-counter pain medication.
For short periods of time during the focused ultrasound treatment, you may experience nausea, pain or other sensations. There is a risk of temporary or permanent numbness or tingling, unsteadiness, gait disturbance or muscle weakness.
Find a doctor
Doctors at The University of Kansas Health System are care providers and researchers at the forefront of new medical discoveries. From primary care to complex conditions, we offer hundreds of specialists.