Focused Ultrasound for Essential Tremor

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Uncontrollable shaking from essential tremor can force you to stop doing the things you love, but it doesn’t have to. If medications fail to relieve the symptoms of your movement disorder, you have other options.

Focused ultrasound treats essential tremor by targeting and destroying a small patch of brain tissue responsible for essential tremor. The procedure does not involve cutting into your body, so recovery is quick and mostly without discomfort.

Relief From Essential Tremor

UVA is the first program in the U.S. to treat essential tremor using focused ultrasound. Just one treatment is often all it takes to get lasting relief. View focused ultrasound transcript.

About Focused Ultrasound for Essential Tremor

  • Not everyone with essential tremor is eligible for focused ultrasound. You may not be eligible for focused ultrasound if you have a pacemaker, kidney disease or can’t have an MRI. However, our team can help you find an alternative treatment, including deep brain stimulation.
  • The FDA approved focused ultrasound for essential tremor in July 2016. This treatment is not currently covered by insurance. We're working with insurance companies to cover this procedure in the future.
  • Focused ultrasound is available for other medical conditions, including uterine fibroids, Parkinson's disease and to stop the spread of certain cancers (bone metastases). 

Do I Qualify for a Focused Ultrasound Thalamotomy?

  • Focused ultrasound thalamotomy is a special type of focused ultrasound procedure that can be very effective for managing essential tremor. Your care team will evaluate you as a potential candidate for this procedure. You are a good candidate if:
    • You have a confirmed diagnosis
    • Your tremors have not gotten better with medications (such as propranolol or primidone)
    • Your tremors are severe enough to consider a surgical procedure 
    • Your condition limits your ability to perform daily activities  
  • If you are a good candidate for focused ultrasound thalamotomy, you'll also need to undergo a special CT scan as part of your evaluation. Because of this, you may not be eligible for focused ultrasound thalamotomy if you can't have a CT scan because you have a pacemaker or other implanted device.
  • If you are prone to anxiety or claustrophobia, you may have trouble tolerating the 2-3 hour procedure.

What is the Likelihood of My Tremors Returning?

There is always a chance that the focused ultrasound thalamotomy procedure might not work or that the effects will wear off with time. We are unable to guarantee the result or provide refunds for the procedure if it is ineffective. 

More Questions About Focused Ultrasound?

View answers to frequently asked questions about focused ultrasound.