Watch Dr James Peters accept the research grant award and hear a bit about the project.
The commonest form of tremor, essential tremor, affects approximately 3% of the population. Despite best medical management, 30-50% of these patients have persistent disability with activities of daily living, which often prompts the consideration of surgical intervention. MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is an incision-less technique, where ultrasound beams are delivered transcranially to create therapeutic lesions in highly specific locations within the brain. Its application in movement disorders and tremor is to target and disrupt the neural circuitry that is propagating tremor (thalamotomy). In the last 5 years, treatment to one side of the body has become routine clinical practice in medication refractory tremor and is of particular interest to those who have contraindications to invasive forms of neurosurgical interventions. Despite the success of unilateral MRgFUS thalamotomy, many patients continue to have trouble with the ‘untreated’ side and have shown interest in bilateral treatments. In light of the improved technology, the safety and effectiveness of bilateral MRgFUS treatments have been proven in prospective studies. Thus, this project aims to verify the effectiveness and safety of this treatment in a real-world setting and to explore if the procedure provides a synergistic improvement in quality of life compared to a single side treatment. Further, the team at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney will continue the collaborative work with the computational neuroscience research team at the Brain and Mind Centre, to determine if the degree of neural circuitry interruption specific to tremor is associated with clinical benefit and/or side-effects, and if this differs from a unilateral treatment.