Milestone for Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute: 100th High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HiFU) for Essential Tremor, Parkinson’s
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Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute
Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute is marking a milestone: Its 100th HiFU (High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound) procedure. HiFU offers an incisionless outpatient procedure for patients with essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease who don’t get acceptable tremor relief from medications.
“It's super exciting that we're able to provide this service for this many people,” said Justin Sporrer, M.D., neurosurgeon and director of functional neurosurgery at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute. “It is a large number and we're proud of that milestone. But, at the same time, I'm looking forward to the future. There's 10 million people in this country with tremor, and a lot of them don't know about this yet, and so I think that there is enormous potential to treat this population.”
This procedure is performed on appropriate patients who have abnormal electrical activity deep in the brain causing essential tremors. HiFU directs more than 1,000 beams of ultrasound waves through the skull and directly to the problem area with extreme precision. The combined energy of these sound waves increases significantly where they meet, enabling them to stun and destroy lesions that are disrupting the normal circuitry of the brain and causing the abnormal electrical activity.
(Watch video: Hear from Justin Sporrer, M.D., neurosurgeon and director of functional neurosurgery at Miami Neuroscience Institute, as he explains the remarkable success of HiFU treatments on patients with essential tremor or Parkinson’s disease. Video by Steve Pipho.)
“With HiFU. we're trying to create an ablation, or actually damage these small area of cells in the brain that are causing tremors,” explains Dr. Sporrer.
Patients receive the treatment while inside an MRI scanner. This allows targeting the precise area in the brain with abnormal electrical activity. During the procedure, patients are awake and able to assist in evaluating response, including tremor improvement and potential side effects. Patients experience immediate tremor improvement afterward. This is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that does not require general anesthesia.
“HiFU has given us the opportunity to provide tremor relief for people who might not otherwise be candidates for the treatments that we have been able to offer in the past, such as deep brain stimulation and medication,” said Dr. Sporrer. “These treatments are excellent in many cases; but for a certain subset of the population, they had no other options, or those didn't work for them, and now we have this available.”
Life with “essential tremor” — one of the most common movement disorders — is disruptive and debilitating. So much that just handling a glass of water is a challenging task. The results from HiFU are immediate and remarkable.
“There's nothing more dramatic than when somebody who has been unable to eat or drink or write their name, or write a letter, suddenly regains that function after having lost it for two or three decades of their life,” said Dr. Sporrer. “Restoring people back to their normal quality of life, to the little things that you and I take for granted, is immensely satisfying.”
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