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J Cent Nerv Syst Dis. 2017 Jun 6;9:1179573517705670. doi: 10.1177/1179573517705670. eCollection 2017.

Treatment of Movement Disorders With Focused Ultrasound.

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Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Although the use of ultrasound as a potential therapeutic modality in the brain has been under study for several decades, relatively few neuroscientists or neurologists are familiar with this technology. Stereotactic brain lesioning had been widely used as a treatment for medically refractory patients with essential tremor (ET), Parkinson disease (PD), and dystonia but has been largely replaced by deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery, with advantages both in safety and efficacy. However, DBS is associated with complications including intracerebral hemorrhage, infection, and hardware malfunction. The occurrence of these complications has spurred interest in less invasive stereotactic brain lesioning methods including magnetic resonance imaging-guided high intensity-focused ultrasound (FUS) surgery. Engineering advances now allow sound waves to be targeted noninvasively through the skull to a brain target. High intensities of sonic energy can create a coagulation lesion similar to that of older radiofrequency stereotactic methods, but without opening the skull, recent Food and Drug Administration approval of unilateral thalamotomy for treatment of ET. Clinical studies of stereotactic FUS for aspects of PD are underway. Moderate intensity, pulsed FUS has also demonstrated the potential to safely open the blood-brain barrier for localized delivery of therapeutics including proteins, genes, and cell-based therapy for PD and related disorders. The goal of this review is to provide basic and clinical neuroscientists with a level of understanding to interact with medical physicists, biomedical engineers, and radiologists to accelerate the application of this powerful technology to brain disease.


FUS; Focused ultrasound; HIFU; Parkinson disease; blood-brain barrier; essential tremor

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DECLARATION OF CONFLICTING INTERESTS: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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