As anyone with essential tremor (ET) can attest, the more ET worsens, the less quality of life there is. Conversely, the more tremors are controlled, the more quality of life returns. And, as anyone with ET who has had a remarkable noninvasive neurosurgery called Exablate Neuro knows, years of tremors disappear in a single treatment. That’s great news!
Exablate Neuro, also branded as Neuravive, is made by a device manufacturing company called Insightec. Founded in Israel in 1999, the company has devoted itself to replacing surgical scalpels with noninvasive focused ultrasound (soundwaves). These soundwaves can penetrate deeply into a targeted area without damaging tissue it passes through. You are probably familiar with the kind of ultrasound used to reveal a developing baby in its mother’s womb, a safe imaging process that is 100% harmless.
However, when a different frequency of ultrasound is aimed from numerous different directions to come to a point at the target, that focal point very quickly heats up to where the target is destroyed.
This is similar to holding a magnifying glass over the back of your hand at noon on a sunny day. As the sun’s rays come through the lens at a multitude of different angles, they are focused as small bright spot, which you will quickly feel start to burn unless you take the magnifying glass away.
What Insightec did was harness ultrasound in the same way, designing the technology to deliver it into the body under MRI guidance. Thus, it is technically called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) or simply FUS. Here are some of the company’s landmarks with their Exablate devices:
✓ 2012 – Received European approval to treat neurological disorders in the brain (ET, Parkinson’s disease, and neuropathic pain
✓ 2012 – Treat pain from metastatic bone tumors (patients who failed other treatments)
✓ 2015 – Treat uterine fibroid tumors in any woman
✓ 2016 – Exablate Neuro received FDA approval to market it in the U.S. for ET
✓ 2016 – Landmark clinical study of ET treatment published in New England Journal of Medicine
Today, MRgFUS is approved to treat at least 20 disease conditions worldwide, and more are undergoing research and clinical trials. A wide array of systems in the body are amenable to FUS, including cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurological, oncological, ophthalmological, psychiatric, urological and more.
ET treatment – you’re in good hands
When ET does not respond to medications, or the side effects of drugs become unacceptable, turning to Insightec for the Neuravive solution means you’re putting your hand tremors in the care of two decades’ worth of research and development, certified by the FDA’s approval for ET treatment in 2016. Until Insightec came up with an incisionless, immediately effective and durable solution, the most sought-after effective intervention into the same area of the brain was an invasive surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Now, the availability of an outpatient treatment—one with no cutting or hole-drilling—offers those with ET a choice between two methods of controlling hand tremors. It’s up to individual patients, together with their doctors, to determine which is better for them.
The business of improving quality of life
As we all recognize, there has always been a business side to medicine, from trading a chicken for a packet of dried herbs to today’s multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries. For Insightec, it has the good fortune to attract investors at enviable infusions of capital. With offices in Miami, Dallas, Haifa, Tokyo and Shanghai, it already has a global presence despite its relatively small size. It made Florida news in early 2020 when Maurice R. Ferré, the son of a former Miami mayor, announced a new investment of up to $150 million that will value it at $1.3 billion.[i] That, too, is good news not just for the company, but for patients everywhere.
Insightec has been a fast-growing company because it is meets huge demand. Its focused ultrasound devices continue to expand the array of conditions they can treat safely, efficiently, effectively, durably and generally painlessly in comparison to other surgeries. Another advantage of MRgFUS is the lack of ionizing radiation, which can have its own late-onset complications. An excellent place to learn more about the amazing benefits of MRgFUS is the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.
There is no doubt that Neuravive significantly improves quality of life for persons with ET whose dominant hand is treated. (At this time, there are studies in Europe to treat both hands several months apart to reduce the risk of side effects.) The Sperling Neurosurgery Associates is pleased to be able to offer this treatment, with each person’s individual needs met by our professional, compassionate staff. We invite you to view the videos of many of our patients who reveal how MRgFUS has changed their lives for the better.
If you or a loved one is concerned about essential tremor, please request a consultation. We’d love to hear from you, and tell you more about how Neuravive may help you.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
[i] Wile, Rob. “Maurice R. Ferré’s company just got a new investment valuing it at more than $1 billion.” Miami Herald, Mar. 6, 2020. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article240968176.html