Trial finds focused ultrasound helps Parkinson's patients
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Researchers at the University of Virginia Health System joined a national trial to help reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The trial used focused ultrasound, focused sound waves, to target an area deep within the brain called the globus pallidus.
This part of the brain controls conscious and proprioceptive movements.
The researchers wanted to see if the focused sound waves could improve trial participants' movements. For example, to help with tremors, slowness and stiffness.
There were 69 patients who received the procedure in the trial, and almost 70 percent responded well. Researchers believe this treatment could be helpful for patients who are ineligible for or do not want to receive deep brain stimulation through other methods.
There are some potential side effects, such as trouble speaking, difficulty walking and loss of taste, but most of these issues were mild and resolved on their own.
"Patients are really attracted to this ultrasound technology because it doesn't involve any surgery, it doesn't involve incisions. We don't have to drill anything into the skull. So, it's very attractive for patients. It's a much less invasive approach," said Jeff Elias, MD, a UVA neurosurgeon.
The results of this trial were shared with the Food and Drug Administration and were considered ahead of the agency's decision to expand approval for this technology's use to treat Parkinson's disease in 2021.
Focused ultrasound has been approved for use in the treatment of essential tremor, a common movement disorder, since 2018.
The study's findings have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.