MRgFUS is set to revolutionize non-invasive brain surgery

MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), is a Noninvasive treatment primarily used to Treatment painful bone metastases, providing patients with prompt pain relief and significant improvement in quality of life. The procedure is being approved by FDA for palliative treatment of bone metastasis in cancer patients. It has been used worldwide to safely treat thousands of patients with painful bone tumors or metastases since 2012. In addition to bone cancer and bone metastases, MRgFUS has also been used in the treatment of prostate cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer and lung cancer, as well as benign tumors.

The Technology uses energy generated by an ultrasound source, focused at a specific point in the body to treat the tissue that is causing pain. This procedure causes minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue, and since ultrasound energy passes through the skin, muscles, fat and other soft tissue, no incisions or inserted probes are needed. Recently this characteristic of the technology was utilized in revolutionary brain surgery to treat tremor without breaking the skin. Elias Pharaon, 85 years old underwent this brain surgery that was performed by a team of University of Calgary physicians and researchers with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

MRgFUS allowed the surgeons to access the brain without cutting the skin or drilling into the skull. Dr. Zelma Kiss, neurosurgeon and professor in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Psychiatry at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) said, “We are able to see the brain with real-time imaging and target a beam of high intensity ultrasound to the brain region responsible for tremor. The patient is awake the whole time and the results are immediate.” The treated patient Pharaon is elated and said that, “I couldn’t believe the tremor in my right hand was gone. I didn’t feel anything during the procedure. I was so happy. It’s changed my life. I feel like I can go out in public again.

Essential tremor is the common type of movement disorder usually treated with medication but in some, like Pharaon, the medication doesn’t work, and the tremors become so severe people can no longer dress or feed themselves. The condition is caused due to different parts of the brain are not talking to each other properly, and the abnormal network function causes the tremor to appear. The idea of neurosurgery in an awake patient without breaking the skin is revolutionary and with the use of this technology after this breakthrough brain surgery, physicians are now looking at different treatment options for a number of devastating brain diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, epilepsy and brain tumors.

– Arpitha Shetty,
Research Analyst,
Infoholic Research