MRgFUS: A Breakthrough Essential Tremor Treatment

At last, there is a breakthrough noninvasive treatment for Essential Tremor (ET). The Neuravive MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) procedure successfully and safely controls tremors that do not respond to medication. Neuravive MRgFUS results are comparable to or better than those of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) or thalamotomy. Success is immediately apparent, recovery is rapid. Advantages of MRgFUS include:

  • Completely noninvasive – no incisions, no holes drilled in the skull, no brain or chest implants as with DBS
  • Real-time MRI allows treatment planning, guidance, and temperature monitoring
  • Outpatient
  • No exposure to radiation
  • No risk of infection from surgical wounds
  • Immediately effective
  • Very short recovery
  • Lasting control of tremor without medication
  • Very low risk of persistent side effects

What other treatments are used for Essential Tremor?

Depending on the severity of ET, conventional treatments range from medication to surgery.

  • Medication – a first-line approach. Drugs called beta-blockers can often control or even remove tremors. Alternatives include anti-seizure or anti-anxiety drugs. Side effects vary, e.g. drowsiness, fatigue, or nausea. Beta-blockers can’t be used with some conditions.
  • Thalamotomy – a surgical procedure that targets a small area of the brain called the thalamus which controls some involuntary movements, including ET. It is offered when medication is no longer effective. The patient is awake during the procedure. After mapping the area using imaging, a narrow hole is drilled in the skull. A thin probe is guided into the thalamus, where it uses radiofrequency or other form of energy to destroy the tremor source. This relieves most, if not all, ET. As with all brain surgery, there are risks including weakness, loss of movement, temporary confusion, temporary balance problems, increased risk of stroke or seizures, and other less common side effects.
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) – a pacemaker-like device is first implanted under the skin of the upper chest. A narrow hole is then drilled in the skull, allowing insertion of an electrode into the thalamus. The electrode is connected by a wire to the implanted device that sends a low level electric current to inactivate the thalamus. Risks and side effects are similar to thalamotomy, with the addition of infection, device complications or failure, and headache.

Neuravive MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) vs. Conventional Treatment Outcomes

When medication no longer works to control ET, compare Neuravive MRgFUS with conventional brain interventions to interrupt tremor signals from the thalamus.

  MRgFUSiv DBSiv Thalamotomyiv
Success at 1 month 91.3% 89.5% 100%
Success at 1 year 78.3% 84.2% 70.6%
Side effects at 1 month 13.0% 5.3% 58.8%
Side effects persist at 1 year 4.4% 21.1% 11.8%

NOTE: Success at one year between MRgFUS was 6% less than DBS, which had over four times the rate of persistent side effects over the same period. Thus, according to the comparison study, there were no significant success differences over time, but “complication rates…were lowest in the MRgFUS group.”v

Sperling Neurosurgery Associates offers the Neuravive procedure using the state-of-the-art Neuravive MRgFUS system. Side effects have been reported (gait disturbances, numbness in the hand or face) but are mostly temporary.

See What Our Patients Are Saying

The Neuravive MRgFUS treatment literally transforms and renews quality of life for ET patients—and does so immediately upon treatment.

Andrew – “The procedure went well. I have full use of my right hand, doing things that I couldn’t before do. It’s the beginning of what I call a game changer.”
Harriet – “It’s remarkable. I’m steady now. That’s all I can say!”

Ana – “I feel great. I feel amazing. I feel excellent. When I came out of the machine and the doctor asked me to put out hands and my right hand was no longer shaking, it hit me. I have had brain surgery without being cut, without being touched, and this miracle happened.”

As Ana states, it’s like a miracle! See more patient stories »

Find out how we can help you!

If you or someone you love suffers from essential tremor and you’d like to know more about how we can help, call Sperling Neurosurgery Associates today at (908) 956-5946.


The latest news

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Dr. Dan Sperling and Jodi Meyer, a Sperling Neuro patient who received our Neuravive ultrasound treatment for her essential tremors, join The Doctors to discuss how the procedure works, why only one side of the brain is treated, and how life has improved for Jodi post-treatment.

Feature in San Antonio ABC affiliate on the difference between Parkinsons and ET and how Sperling Medical Group's Neuravive treatment is helping patients eliminate their ET symptoms. Read the article »

Sperling Prostate Center Joins MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound Clinical Study. Find out more »

Dr. Sperling speaks at the WPBF 25 Health and Safety Festival with Dr. Mehmet Oz Find out more & watch video »