Swedish offers new nonsurgical treatment for essential tremor

August 17, 2016 Ryder P. Gwinn, MD

It may sound like something out of “Star Trek,” but the latest technology to treat patients with essential tremor is a true technological advance that Swedish helped research and now offers. ExAblate Neuro is a non-surgical technique that uses ultrasound to treat essential tremor, a neurological disorder that causes rhythmic shaking, most commonly in the hands, but also in the arms and legs.

In July, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved ExAblate Neuro -- also called MR-guided focused ultrasound or focused ultrasound ablation – for patients who haven’t been helped by medicine.

Sound waves instead of surgery

During this procedure, patients undergo an MRI wearing a high-energy ultrasound transducer helmet. Doctors use the helmet to target brain tissue causing the tremors, and then destroy the tissue with ultrasound.

Since this minimally invasive treatment doesn’t require radiation or any incisions, patients usually go home the same day.

Swedish leads in treatment and research

Swedish is the first center in the Pacific Northwest to offer focused ultrasound ablation to patients with essential tremor. We also are the only center that also offers two other advanced treatment options for patients with essential tremor:

  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Gamma Knife

Swedish was a leader in research on MR-guided focused ultrasound, and we look forward to offering this option to patients with essential tremor.

Learn more 

You can read more about the FDA’s approval of this technology here. Since this procedure is new, it’s currently not covered by insurance and available to self-pay patients at this time. For more information, please call Swedish at 206-320-2847

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