What is MR-guided focused ultrasound?
MR-guided focused ultrasound is a pioneering new treatment for Parkinson’s tremor. It combines two technologies — high-intensity focused ultrasound (FUS) is guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to destroy a small area of tissue in the brain responsible for the tremor.
MR-guided focused ultrasound is an outpatient procedure that takes about 3–4 hours. Results are comparable to deep brain stimulation (DBS) but without the risks of general anaesthesia and invasive surgery.
Clinical studies have shown that patients see a significant improvement of their hand tremor that was maintained through a 12-month follow-up period.
What is Parkinson’s tremor?
Parkinson’s tremor is characterised by uncontrollable shaking that affects a part or parts of the body (for example, the hand). It’s one of the main symptoms commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive neurological disease that affects the brain.
Parkinson’s disease is a complex condition that presents differently in every individual, and not everyone with Parkinson’s experiences Parkinson’s tremor. For many individuals, however, tremor is the first symptom they experience, often appearing in the hand or foot. Tremor-dominant Parkinson’s is when tremor is your main symptom that needs management.
A Parkinson’s tremor is more likely to appear as a resting tremor, which means it happens while the body is at rest. One of the most common examples is called a ‘pill-rolling’ tremor because it appears as if you are trying to roll a pill between your thumb and index finger. It can also be experienced as an action tremor (shaking while trying to drink a glass of water) or an internal tremble (a trembling felt inside the body but not noticeable from the outside).
You can find out more about Parkinson’s tremor, including common symptoms, treatments and day-to-day coping strategies on our dedicated condition page.
Benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound for Parkinson’s tremor
- Low to no risk of infection
- Fast recovery
- Immediate results
- No hospitalisation
How it works
In a traditional ultrasound, sound waves pass safely through the body to generate an image — for example, in ultrasound images of unborn babies.
In focused ultrasound (FUS), the same sound waves are used, but a special device focuses the energy from over 1000 ultrasound sources, creating a point of intersection in a very precise spot in the brain. The focused ultrasound waves generate enough heat at this intersection point to create a permanent lesion in the brain tissue, which interrupts the circuitry responsible for the tremor.
The MRI allows the neurosurgeon to see the brain in real-time, accurately pinpoint the correct target location and carefully monitor the temperature of the ultrasound waves.
About the procedure
At Queen Square Imaging Centre, we use state-of-the-art equipment for MR-guided focused ultrasound treatments.
Our friendly and professional staff will explain every step of the treatment and ensure your comfort in every way possible.
Before the procedure, you will have your head shaved to prevent any obstruction of the sound waves. You will be given a local anaesthetic in the skin around your scalp so that a frame can then be secured to your head. This frame ensures that your head remains completely still while in the MRI machine.
During the procedure, you will be awake, which is essential for targeting the right area of the brain, assessing your improvement and minimising any potential side effects.
Throughout the treatment, you will be moved into and out of the MRI machine and asked to do simple tasks like drawing a spiral to assess your improvement. Our team will talk to you throughout the procedure and will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Understanding the results
Individual results vary, but patients reported an average of 51.9% improvement in tremor severity in clinical studies, which was maintained over a 12-month follow-up period. Improvement was also reported in functional outcome and quality of life measures.
At Queen Square Imaging Centre, our success is due to the precision of our targeting. As pioneers of imaging, we create incredibly detailed brain maps to locate precise targets to destroy to ensure the best results with minimal side effects.
It’s important to note that there is no cure for Parkison’s disease, and MRgFUS is just one treatment for Parkison’s symptoms. But for those patients who choose focused ultrasound treatment, improvement can be seen immediately.
“After completion of the treatment, I felt elated. On the first evening, I celebrated by eating a Japanese meal with chopsticks, which I had not done for over six years. Now, I can confidently use my right hand and arm to do many, many more things. Hobbies, eating, writing, throwing a ball for my dog are all easier and more pleasurable.”
- Treatment patient
If you have tremor-dominant Parkinson’s and medication is longer helping to control your tremor, you may be a suitable candidate for MR-guided focused ultrasound.
At the start of your patient journey, you’ll meet with a multidisciplinary team for a detailed consultation to assess the best method of treatment for you based on your lifestyle, expectations and symptoms.
We take a personalised, holistic approach to ensure that you get the best possible results from any treatment. Whether it’s tweaking your medication, recommending MRgFUS or deep brain stimulation, we’re here to help you choose the right treatment for you.
Our expert team
Queen Square Imaging Centre has a unique partnership with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN) — the UK’s largest dedicated neurological and neurosurgical hospital.
All MR-guided focused ultrasound treatments will be performed by a multidisciplinary team of expert partners from the NHNN at our specialist imaging centre, conveniently located in the heart of London.
Professor Ludvic Zrinzo
Mr Jonathan Hyam
Mr Harith Akram
Professor Patricia Limousin
Professor Tom Foltynie
Dr Tabish Saifee
Dr Prasad Korlipara
Transparent fixed-price packages
We offer a fully transparent, fixed-price service. The MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment is broken down into two distinct packages.
Our fixed price pre-assessment package includes:
- A clinical examination
- Multidisciplinary team meetings to discuss your suitability
- All relevant diagnostic investigations (blood tests, MRI scan, CT scan)
Our MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment package includes:
- Outpatient procedure
- Follow-up appointment
Call today to learn more about our fixed-price packages for Parkinson's tremor treatment.
Frequently asked questions
If you are over 30 and your tremor symptoms are no longer responding to medication, you may be suitable for MR-guided focused ultrasound. We’ll perform a detailed clinical assessment to test your body’s response to being taken off your medication and get an accurate indication of their severity without medication. Throughout your consultation, we’ll provide helpful holistic advice and guidance on the right treatment for you.
About Queen Square Imaging Centre
Providing specialist diagnostic imaging in Queen Square since 1985
The Queen Square Imaging Centre is Central London’s only dedicated independent neuroimaging facility.
With a specialist focus on the brain, spine and nervous system, our expert team of radiographers and highly specialised Consultant Neuroradiologists use our brand-new, state-of-the-art CT and MRI scanners to ensure that your scan and report are of the highest quality.
We work in partnership with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery specialists to offer self-pay and insured patients fast access to high-quality examinations in unrivalled patient comfort and safety.
Make an enquiry
If you would like to find out more information about our MRI services please contact us using the form below.
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