Parkinsonsecrets.com and Parkinsonbreakthrough.com blogs are the Official Website for the books:  Parkinson's Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life and 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease.

Dr. Okun is the co-founder of the University of Florida Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, the National Medical Director for the National Parkinson Foundation, as well as the author of several books including Ask the Expert about Parkinson's Disease, Lessons from the Bedside, 10 Breakthrough Therapies for Parkinson's Disease and Parkinson's Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier life due out in 2013.  His secrets book was translated into 20 languages so that it can be made available to Parkinson's disease sufferers around the world.  Dr. Okun has been recently been honored at the White House as a Champion of Change for Parkinson's Disease. Dr. Okun has been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and people travel from around the world to seek his opinion on best treatment approaches for this disease.

Treatment Tips for Ultrasound Therapy in Tremor and Parkinson's Disease

High intensity ultrasound was first utilized as a treatment for the brain in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  Its rebirth should not be a surprise, as combining this technology with high field MRI scanning has the potential to lead to a powerful therapeutic tool.  Ultrasound therapy for tremor, and potentially also for Parkinson’s disease has great appeal to patients, as it does not require a scalp incision or a craniotomy.  The therapy also has distinct advantages over gamma knife and other radiosurgery techniques.  In radiosurgery, unlike in ultrasound, you do not have the ability to apply a test-lesion prior to placing a permanent lesion.  Additionally, radiosurgery carries the potential for radiation necrosis, runaway brain lesions, and delayed complications. 

Key points-

-Similar risks to conventional thalamotomy

-Formation of a brain lesion is part of ultrasound and conventional thalamotomy

-Bilateral approach or two sided brain surgery is discouraged for ultrasound therapy because of side effects (cognition, pseudobulbar)

-4/15 subjects (26.7%) had persistent sensory issues; when these occur with deep brain stimulation (DBS) re-programming of the device leads to symptom resolution

-Microelectrode recording and physiological mapping are not done in ultrasound

-Precision of the lesion is a big hurdle for the therapy as it moves toward trials in Parkinson's disease

-There are no wires or pacemakers with ultrasound therapy

Read the free summary blog on ultrasound therapy for tremor and Parkinson's Disease What You Need to Know written by Dr. Okun at New England Journal of Medicine Neurology Journal Watch

The abstract of the actual study published in the NEJM on ultrasound therapy and tremor is provided below but we would refer you to the journal for the article by Elias and colleagues. 

A Pilot Study of Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy for Essential Tremor

W. Jeffrey Elias, M.D., Diane Huss, P.T., D.P.T., N.C.S., Tiffini Voss, M.D., Johanna Loomba, B.S., Mohamad Khaled, M.D., Eyal Zadicario, M.Sc., Robert C. Frysinger, Ph.D., Scott A. Sperling, Psy.D., Scott Wylie, Ph.D., Stephen J. Monteith, M.D., Jason Druzgal, M.D., Ph.D., Binit B. Shah, M.D., Madaline Harrison, M.D., and Max Wintermark, M.D.

Abstract

Background

Recent advances have enabled delivery of high-intensity focused ultrasound through the intact human cranium with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) guidance. This preliminary study investigates the use of transcranial MRI-guided focused ultra- sound thalamotomy for the treatment of essential

tremor.

Methods

From February 2011 through December 2011, in an open-label, uncontrolled study, we used transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound to target the unilateral ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus in 15 patients with severe, medication-refrac- tory essential tremor. We recorded all safety data and measured the effectiveness of tremor suppression using the Clinical Rating Scale for Tremor to calculate the total score (ranging from 0 to 160), hand subscore (primary outcome, ranging from 0 to 32), and disability subscore (ranging from 0 to 32), with higher scores indicating worse tremor. We assessed the patients’ perceptions of treatment efficacy with the Quality of Life in Essential Tremor Questionnaire (ranging from 0 to 100%, with higher scores indicating greater perceived disability).

Results

Thermal ablation of the thalamic target occurred in all patients. Adverse effects of the procedure included transient sensory, cerebellar, motor, and speech abnor- malities, with persistent paresthesias in four patients. Scores for hand tremor im- proved from 20.4 at baseline to 5.2 at 12 months (P=0.001). Total tremor scores improved from 54.9 to 24.3 (P=0.001). Disability scores improved from 18.2 to 2.8 (P=0.001). Quality-of-life scores improved from 37% to 11% (P=0.001).

Conclusions

In this pilot study, essential tremor improved in 15 patients treated with MRI- guided focused ultrasound thalamotomy. Large, randomized, controlled trials will be required to assess the procedure’s efficacy and safety. (Funded by the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01304758.)

n engl j med 369;7 nejm.org august 15, 2013