For those who have been unresponsive to essential tremor treatment, another option may soon be more widely available. The newest noninvasive treatment, MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), has only been FDA-approved for a year. Many patients have experienced a diminished tremor after the treatment, but the practice has yet to become widespread. This may soon change. The FDA has recently approved the common 1.5T MRI systems for use during Focused Ultrasound treatments.
Focused Ultrasound had received FDA-approval in July 2016 as a treatment option for essential tremor patients who were unresponsive to surgery. This procedure first uses an MRI to locate and target the area of the brain that’s responsible for the patient’s tremor. Then, 15-second bursts of focused ultrasound waves are used to treat the brain. Many patients have enjoyed a diminished tremor immediately following the procedure.
Insightec, a leader in Focused Ultrasound treatment, had previously received FDA approval to use 3.0T MRI systems to perform the procedure. Now they’ve been approved to use 1.5T MRIs during treatment. This system is more commonly used than the 3.0T system that they had been previously approved for. This could open up new avenues for this treatment to be more widely available to patients—1.5T MRI systems are the ones most frequently used in hospitals today.
Essential tremor, an action tremor that most commonly affects the hands and head, is the most common movement disorder—yet its existence is not well known. Previous treatment options have included medication, invasive surgery, and the noninvasive Gamma Knife that uses ionizing radiation to lesion the brain without surgery. Now, focused ultrasound is gaining speed as a possible option for patients who have not experienced symptomatic relief from other treatments. The approval for 1.5T MRI systems to be used is just one more step toward this procedure becoming a common option.
The Essential Tremor Education Center is excited to see how this new FDA approval may help those with essential tremor. For those with a severe tremor, essential tremor treatment may be the relief they need to handle their day-to-day tasks without the added struggle of tremors. If you’d like to learn more about the advancements being made in treatment, or the options that may be available to you please check out our blog or call our educators at 844-NO-TREMOR.