Focused Ultrasound Program

What Is Focused Ultrasound?

MRI-guided focused ultrasound is an incisionless treatment option for select patients with essential tremor or parkinsonian tremor that hasn't improved with medication.

Focused ultrasound uses magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to precisely direct sound waves (ultrasonic energy) to heat a part of the brain to reduce hand tremor in people who have essential tremor and parkinsonian tremor.

MR-guided focused ultrasound does not treat your underlying disease or prevent disease progression.

How Does Focused Ultrasound Work?

MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment takes place in an outpatient MRI suite. During the procedure, your neurosurgeon will steer sound waves to precisely target a part of your brain called the ventral intermediate nucleus (VIM) of the thalamus. Where these sound waves come together inside the brain, it generates sufficient heat making a tiny lesion in your brain and reduces your hand tremor. You will be inside of an MRI scanner during the entire procedure where your neurosurgeon will perform the treatment and monitor how your brain tissue is responding to the sound waves.

Benefits of MR-guided Focused Ultrasound

  • Incisionless approach: Creates precise brain lesions to treat tremor without open surgery.
  • No radiation exposure: Treatment uses ultrasound energy with no radiation exposure.
  • Go home the same day: Because there is no anesthesia or incisions, this is performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • Immediate and often dramatic results with a single treatment: Patients experience immediate and significant reduction in their hand tremor. However as with any treatment, individual results may vary. It is possible that your tremor may not improve, or that it may improve but then return months or years after treatment.

Who is MR-guided Focused Ultrasound Right for?

MR-guided focused ultrasound is FDA approved for people who meet the following certain criteria:

  • You must be at least 22 years old for essential tremor and 30 years old for Parkinsonian tremor
  • You must have a tremor that does not respond to medications

Currently, focused ultrasound is FDA-approved for unilateral (one side of the body) treatment of tremors only.

Once focused ultrasound is used to treat one side of your body, we cannot use it to treat the other side. Although most of our patients prefer to treat their dominant hand, some choose the hand that has more severe tremors.

There are additional important criteria to consider. Our team of neurologists and neurosurgeons, with expertise in MR-guided focused ultrasound, will help you determine if you are a good candidate.

As part of the process, our team of neurosurgeons and neurologists will perform a full medical evaluation to assess your overall condition and determine the severity of your tremor. This is necessary to ensure safe and effective treatment for your condition. You will also need to have a CT scan to verify that MR-guided focused ultrasound is suitable for you.

We currently perform MR-guided focused ultrasound at Emory Brain Health Center at Executive Park.

For more information, please call 404-778-3444. 

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For more information, please call 404-778-3444.