Focused ultrasound is a new, scalpel-free treatment for essential tremor, the most common movement disorder. We're among a select few programs in the country that can offer this treatment.
What is focused ultrasound?
Focused ultrasound combines high-frequency (ultrasound) energy with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This treatment safely and accurately treats tissue deep within the body without the need for incisions. UVA was part of a multi-site clinical trial to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of this approach for treating essential tremor. Researchers are exploring other potential applications.
How does focused ultrasound work?
Focused ultrasound disrupts the brain activity responsible for the tremors while protecting normal, healthy tissue.
What to expect:
- Your doctor uses MRI to accurately target brain tissue and electrical activity responsible for the tremors
- Your doctor guides concentrated beams of ultrasound energy to the treatment area
- The energy beams disrupt the abnormal electrical activity and relieve your symptoms
Can I receive focused ultrasound for other neurological disorders?
Currently, focused ultrasound is only available for essential tremor. We also care for patients from around the world with rare and complex neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.
If I have essential tremor, does this mean I can receive focused ultrasound?
Focused ultrasound is not available for people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, or those who can’t undergo an MRI because they have an implantable medical device, like a pacemaker. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment option for you, including alternatives such as deep brain stimulation.
Is focused ultrasound covered by my insurance?
The FDA approved the approach in July 2016, but it's not yet covered by insurance.
When will you start treating patients using focused ultrasound?
We are currently only accepting patients who can pay out of pocket. We’re working on making this available for more patients. It's undetermined when private insurers will begin covering this procedure. In the meantime, our physicians continue to see patients and advise them on the best options for their condition.