A group of Swiss clinicians is reporting the successful use of MRI-guided transcranial high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat brain disease.
HIFU systems send highly focused ultrasound beams into patients under MRI guidance, coagulating tissue by heating it to a focal temperature of 60° C. HIFU has already been used for a number of years to treat uterine fibroids and tumors of the prostate gland, but use of HIFU through the intact skull for noninvasive neurosurgery was not possible until recently.
As part of a clinical study at the MR-Center of the University Children's Hospital Zurich, researchers demonstrated the safety and efficacy of HIFU for noninvasive brain interventions. Since September 2008, researchers have treated 10 patients with a commercially available HIFU system (ExAblate 4000, InSightec, Tirat Carmel, Israel) in combination with a 3-tesla MRI scanner (GE Healthcare, Chalfont St. Giles, U.K.).
All interventions were completed successfully and without complications. The entire surgical procedure lasts several hours and is performed without anesthesia.
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