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Editor's e-Note
Focused ultrasound is an intriguing technology. It’s currently FDA approved to treat essential tremor, but researchers are exploring many additional applications. This month, we’re highlighting a couple of presentations from RSNA 2019 that proposed exciting possibilities for focused ultrasound therapy.

We’re also pleased to announce the launch of our USMLE study guide. Each year, medical students take the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which comes with a large dose of medical images. The USMLE study guide presents normal anatomy as well as a range of medical conditions. You can view it here. The first installment is focused on the gastrointestinal system, but we’ll be adding more body systems on a regular basis. Medical students and the medically curious alike will find plenty to pique their interest. Let us know what you think on Twitter and/or Facebook.

— Dave Yeager, editor
e-News Exclusive
Ultrasound News From RSNA 2019

Minimally Invasive Procedure Relieves Parkinson’s Tremors

A procedure that applies pulses of focused ultrasound to the brain is safe and effective for reducing tremors and improving quality of life in people with essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease tremor, according to a study presented at RSNA 2019. Tremors are rhythmic, involuntary muscle movements that cause shaking in one or more parts of the body, usually in the hands. They are characteristic of movement disorders such as essential tremor and Parkinson’s, two progressive conditions that affect millions of people worldwide. Previous treatment options for reducing tremors in patients who have not responded to medical therapy include deep brain stimulation, a surgical procedure that involves implanting a small electrode in the brain connected to a pulse generator that is implanted in the chest like a pacemaker.

A more recently available option is MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thalamotomy, an incisionless IR procedure in which focused beams of sound energy are used to heat and destroy a small part of a structure in the brain called the thalamus. The procedure gives relief to the opposite side of the body, meaning that treatment to the right side of the brain would relieve tremors on the left side of the body and vice versa. As a minimally invasive approach, focused ultrasound has advantages over deep brain stimulation, including a reduced risk of complications from bleeding and infections, according to study lead author Federico Bruno, MD, a radiologist in the department of biotechnological and applied clinical sciences at the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

“Another advantage is the immediate effect this treatment provides, unlike deep brain stimulation which requires a break-in period for the electrostimulation,” Bruno said. “Additionally, treatment with MRgFUS requires shorter hospitalization and is a fairly well-tolerated procedure, even by more fragile patients.”

Full story »
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