Many people quietly suffer from involuntary tremor so severe that they can’t so much as tie their shoes or sip a cup of coffee.
In 2022, Oregon Health & Science University became the only center in Oregon to offer an outpatient form of life-changing therapy called high-frequency focused ultrasound. In fact, OHSU is one of just five U.S. training sites for the procedure — and is the only site in the United States to use the most recent, enhanced form of the technology. On Dec. 27, OHSU became the first in the country to use an enhanced version of the technology called Exablate Prime, produced by Israel-based Insightec.
OHSU hosts training sessions on a quarterly basis.
“We have a high demand from neurosurgeons, neurologists and training coordinators from across the country to visit and learn the technology,” said Ahmed Raslan, M.D., professor of neurological surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of functional neurosurgery.
OHSU has treated 130 people since becoming the first in Oregon to provide the incisionless technology in March 2022.
Learn more about OHSU’s innovative neurological procedures in this media kit.
Guided by magnetic resonance imaging, the technology directs more than 1,000 sonic beams through the skull to create a small lesion in the focal point of the brain causing a condition known as essential tremor. The procedure, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016, also treats a related condition known as tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease.
The incisionless procedure reflects an overarching trend for minimally invasive surgeries across medicine, said Daniel Cleary, M.D., an assistant professor of neurological surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine who, along with Raslan, treats patients using high-frequency focused ultrasound.
“This is the way of the future,” Cleary said. “Such minimally invasive surgery is better for the patients — incisionless, better outcomes, faster recovery. OHSU is paving the way for this new technology, and we are using it to train both residents [physicians in training] and practicing physicians. Patients are seeing the benefits, and word about it is spreading like wildfire.”
The enhanced version of the technology includes greatly improved interface, monitoring and control for clinicians. For patients, it improves comfort and reduces the time they spend in the procedure itself to as little as 45 minutes, Raslan said.
“This is not just an inconvenience or an embarrassment for people who come to us,” Raslan said. “We’re treating them at the point when it’s reached the disability stage. People often can’t feed themselves, shave, dress, write or do any of the hobbies they love. Especially for older adults who are already vulnerable, it’s one of the worst disabilities that you can get.”