Swedish first in the Pacific Northwest to offer FDA approved focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor

July 29, 2016

The Swedish Neuroscience Institute is the first hospital in the Pacific Northwest to offer focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor. Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) guided focused ultrasound, is a non-invasive treatment option for those essential tremor patients who have not responded to medication. 

The focused ultrasound combines two innovative technologies: MRI, which is used to serve as a real-time guide to identify and target the tissue to be treated; and the focused ultrasound, which is a wave of energy that precisely targets and ablates tissue deep within the brain with no incisions or implants. 

“This technology allows us to deliver up to 1,000 ultrasound waves under MRI guidance to converge precisely on a pinpoint area of the brain to treat tremor symptoms during a single treatment session,” said Dr. Ryder Gwinn, neurosurgeon and medical director for the Center for Neurologic Restoration at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute. “This is a great milestone for advancing non-surgical solutions for essential tremor patients.”

Essential tremor is the most common movement disorder, affecting more than 10 million people in the United States, and millions more worldwide. Hand and arm tremor is the most common symptom, but tremors can also affect the head, voice, legs, and torso. For these patients, performing everyday tasks presents a challenge and impacts their quality of life.

Focused ultrasound is an outpatient treatment option where the patient experiences immediate hand and arm tremor improvement following the procedure. The treatment requires a single session with no anesthesia, allowing patients to quickly return to normal activity such as eating and writing.

 “With the focused ultrasound, we hope to improve the quality of life for patients who suffer from this progressive and debilitating neurological condition,” said Dr. Gwinn. “In addition to treating essential tremor, we hope to use this technology in the future for Parkinson's disease, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and epilepsy." 

For more information about the focused ultrasound treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, visit www.swedish.org/focusedultrasound.