July 22, 2021
On June 14, 2021, Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center became the first and only center in New Jersey — and one of only a few in the country — to offer noninvasive MRI-guided focused ultrasound to treat hand tremors, or involuntary and rhythmic shaking that affects people with certain neurological conditions.
The treatment is performed with the Exablate® Neuro platform, developed by medical technology company Insightec and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease that has not responded to medications.
Focused ultrasound uses sound waves that travel through the skin and skull, which means that the procedure can be performed without any incisions. Under MRI guidance, the sound waves are precisely focused on a targeted area deep in the brain. The sound waves converge to heat the target tissue, which disrupts the abnormal signals that cause tremor.
The focused ultrasound system together with the MRI includes safety features that measure temperature changes in the skull and reduce the risk of damage to surrounding brain tissue.
“Essential tremor affects 10 million Americans, and Parkinson’s disease affects approximately one million Americans,” said Hooman Azmi, M.D., director, Division of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery at the Hackensack University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute and associate professor of neurosurgery at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine who will treat patients using focused ultrasound technology. “MR-guided focused ultrasound is an amazing development because it has the potential to instantaneously decrease or eliminate tremors and improve quality of life for millions of patients who are living with a movement disorder.”
And because the focused ultrasound procedure is noninvasive, requires no incisions and is performed while the patient is awake, treatment often can be done on an outpatient basis.
“Patients who undergo focused ultrasound treatment experience immediate improvement and don’t need to stay overnight in the hospital,” said Dr. Azmi. “That means patients require little downtime after the procedure and can return to everyday activities sooner.”
The benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound include:
- No surgical incisions
- Little to no risk of infection
- A return to everyday activities in a few days
- Performed as an outpatient procedure — no overnight hospital stay required
- Immediate reduction in tremors
- Strong safety and clinical efficacy data
- Minimal side effects
“Hackensack University Medical Center is the only center in New Jersey to offer this groundbreaking procedure, so we can offer our patients a treatment for tremors that isn’t available elsewhere in the state,” said Mark Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive, Hackensack University Medical Center and executive vice president of Population Health, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Without the need for invasive brain surgery, our neurosurgery experts will be able to provide leading-edge, life-changing treatment for patients with tremor-dominant movement disorders.”
“Many patients experience immediate improvement with minimal complications,” said Patrick Roth, M.D., chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Hackensack University Medical Center. “By expanding their access to this treatment, we can help restore confidence and independence for people suffering from debilitating tremors.”
“With the addition of focused ultrasound technology at Hackensack University Medical Center, patients in New Jersey no longer have to travel to access this incredible treatment option,” said Randy Thomas, director, Orthopedics, Neuroscience, Hackensack University Medical Center. “Our neurosurgery team can now offer this treatment option close to home without the need for an overnight hospital stay or lengthy recovery time, making the treatment more convenient for patients and caregivers.”
“The Hackensack University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute is at the forefront of movement disorder treatment, and we are proud to be one of only a few centers in the country to offer MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment to our patients,” said Florian Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at Hackensack University Medical Center and at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “This treatment provides hope for patients whose tremor symptoms have not responded to other therapies and offers a noninvasive option that can deliver immediate and outstanding results.”
INSIGHTEC is a fast-growing global medical technology innovator transforming patient lives through incisionless surgery. The company’s award-winning Exablate® Neuro is the first and only focused ultrasound platform approved by the FDA to treat essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease that has not responded to medications.