OU Health Offers an Oklahoma First – Incisionless Treatment for Patients with Essential Tremor

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OU Health Offers an Oklahoma First – Incisionless Treatment for Patients  with Essential Tremor

OU Health is the first and only health system in Oklahoma to offer an incisionless treatment for patients with medical refractory essential tremor that can result in improvement in hand, head and body shaking as well as increased mobility through a same-day treatment.

Exciting Technological Breakthrough

Called “Focused Ultrasound,” the new technology is for essential tremor patients who have not responded to medication, or who cannot take it.

“Focused Ultrasound is an exciting breakthrough treatment for Oklahomans, offering patients access to this amazing service, right here, close to home,” said Andrew Conner, M.D., OU Health Physicians neurosurgeon. “Instead of traveling out of state, away from their families, patients with essential tremor can have same-day treatment, with tremendous improvements noticed almost immediately.”

Focused Ultrasound uses sound waves guided by MRI to focus ultrasound waves deep in the brain with no incisions or permanent implants. The temperature at the target rises high enough to create a small ablation, or burn, providing a therapeutic effect.

The MRI acts as the “eyes” of the treatment, enabling the physician to plan, guide and target the area. It also acts like a thermometer, providing continuous temperature monitoring to verify that only the targeted tissue is affected. Patients are awake throughout the procedure so that they can communicate with the treatment team, and heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels are constantly monitored. The treatment lasts for about 2 ½ hours. After a short period in recovery, patients are able to go home, typically the same day.

“OU Health is continuing to improve the lives of Oklahomans by bringing advanced therapies to those with complex conditions,” said Ian Dunn, M.D., Chief Physician Executive of OU Health and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. “Being at the forefront of medicine and health is the foundation of an academic health system and it is important to make sure that Oklahomans never have to leave the state to receive this type of care.”

Recovery Period

Recovery from Focused Ultrasound is fast, with patients usually able to resume normal activities within days. As there is no incision, there is minimal risk of infection and many patients report immediate and lasting improvement of the tremor with next to no complications.

Essential tremor is a neurological condition that usually causes shaking of the hands, head and voice, but can also cause shaking of the legs and trunk. Some patients report a feeling of internal tremor. Approximately 10 million Americans are affected by essential tremor and it is eight times more common than Parkinson’s disease. Essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease are commonly confused because both involve involuntary muscle contractions. Treatment for essential tremor is usually a beta-adrenergic blocker or an anti-seizure medication, however, medications cannot always control a tremor or may cause unwanted side effects.

If you are interested in learning more about whether or not you are a candidate for Focused Ultrasound, or for more information, call 1-800-574-1974 or call OU Health Physicians — Neurosurgery Clinic at (405) 271-4912.