Ultrasound Treatment Appears Promising for Essential Tremor

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Ultrasound Treatment Appears Promising for Essential Tremor
Ultrasound Treatment Appears Promising for Essential Tremor

FRIDAY, Aug. 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with essential tremor may benefit from a new noninvasive ultrasound procedure, according to a report published in the Aug. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Travis Tierney, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric neurosurgeon at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, and colleagues randomly assigned 76 patients with moderate-to-severe essential tremor who had not responded to medical treatment to unilateral focused ultrasound thalamotomy or a sham procedure. Patients completed a quality-of-life questionnaire at the start of the study and periodically for one year. Neurologists saw videotapes of patients and assessed improvements in tremor.

The researchers found that three months after treatment, those receiving focused ultrasound experienced an improvement in their hand tremor greater than those getting the sham procedure. The improvement lasted for at least a year. Ultrasound patients also saw an improvement in measures of disability and quality of life, compared with those who received the sham procedure.

Side effects included gait disturbance in 36 percent of the patients, which persisted for one year in 9 percent. Numbness in the hand and face occurred in 38 percent, and remained in 14 percent a year after therapy.

Israel-based InSightec, the device maker, funded the research.

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