Scalpel-free surgery gains ground as treatment for Parkinson’s symptoms

Non-invasive focused ultrasound surgery, which can be performed as a non-anesthetic outpatient procedure — with much less pain and shorter recovery time for patients — is gaining ground as an effective and highly beneficial treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

As Medgadget reports, InSightec, makers of an MR-guided interventional ultrasound system, received approval in Europe for its ExAblate Neuro system, which is designed to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and neuropathic pain.

The procedure uses sound waves to target affected areas of the brain. Compared to the current prevalent surgical therapy of deep brain stimulation, which involves drilling into the skull and implanting a pacemaker-like device, the minimally invasive ultrasound procedure poses much less risk to surrounding brain areas.

ExAblate is as yet unapproved in the US to treat Parkinsons, but is in clinical trial at the University of Virginia. A first round showed promising results in controlling Parkinson’s related tremors.

Yoav Medan, vice president and chief systems architect of InSightec, described how the surgery works at TEDMED 2011. Watch his talk: