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Focused Ultrasound
Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  Hurvitz Brain Sciences Program  >  What is Focused Ultrasound?  >  Focused ultrasound for essential tremor

Focused ultrasound for essential tremor

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Focused ultrasound (FUS) is a non-invasive, image-guided surgical technology that uses multiple sources of ultrasound energy, arranged in a specially designed helmet, to target areas deep within the brain.

The ability to focus ultrasound energy non-invasively, through the human skull was largely pioneered by scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. This work created a spring-board for the development of new therapeutic applications, by enabling surgeons and scientists safe and precise access to deeper brain structures, without opening the skull. Sunnybrook has become a global leader in FUS research and clinical trials, and is the only Canadian site designated as a Focused Ultrasound Centre of Excellence by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.

» What is involved in a focused ultrasound procedure?

FUS harnesses the power of ultrasound waves to reach deep brain regions without the need for scalpels or cutting.

On the morning of a FUS procedure, a special head frame is fitted to the patient’s head with local anaesthetic. This will attach to a focused ultrasound helmet that helps to hold the patient’s head still during the procedure. The helmet contains transducer elements that deliver ultrasound to a specific region of the brain. Patients lie down in the MRI scanner and are awake throughout the entire procedure, and carefully monitored by the medical team.

Following the procedure, patients are transferred to the neurosurgical ward for recovery and are discharged home a few hours later. Patients return to the hospital the next day for a follow-up MRI scan. The surgical and medical teams closely monitor each patient’s post-treatment recovery and longer term outcome.

» Who is eligible to receive focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor?

For many people with essential tremor the disability is relatively mild, while for others it can be quite severe. For many patients, medication is effective but in those for whom medications do not work, surgery becomes an option. MRI-guided focused ultrasound treatment is suitable for people with severe tremor that interferes with activities of daily living like writing, eating and drinking from a cup, who do not respond to medication.

Eligible patients must be:

  • At least 18 years of age
  • A Canadian resident
  • Have a tremor dominant movement disorder that has failed medical treatment

» How can I receive focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor?

Focused ultrasound for essential tremor can be offered as part of clinical care for Canadian residents. Patients interested in this treatment option can have their doctor send a referral to Sunnybrook neurosurgeons Dr. Michael Schwartz or Dr. Nir Lipsman. Please contact for more information. Please use subject line: FUS Essential Tremor.

» How can I get more info about focused ultrasound treatment for essential tremor?

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For more information about this treatment or focused ultrasound at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre:

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