Hospital performs incision-less brain surgery
Dr. Wael Asaad describes the groundbreaking procedure as a "cutting edge option without the cutting."
PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – Neurosurgeons at the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute are now offering an innovative, incision-less brain surgery that aims to treat patients suffering from tremors – and it’s available in Rhode Island.
“The big obstacle was basically being able to get the energy through the skull in such a way that it could be focused to perform very precise neurosurgery. This new device has that capability,” explains Dr. Wael Asaad, Neurosurgeon at Rhode Island Hospital. The ultrasound technology, guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), specifically targets the area of the brain that causes tremors in patients that suffer from movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease or essential tremors. The first patient, David Mossberg, underwent the non-invasive treatment on July 30th at Rhode Island Hospital. “I have Essential Tremor. The treatment was fabulous. The tremor is now completely gone in my right hand. I can now hold a fork, soup spoon, and a coffee mug perfectly steady. Also, I was having a very hard time writing. My handwriting is as good now as when I was in high school.”
With the ability to reduce both recovery time and the risk of infection, the entire process takes 2-3 hours. “It’s a one-day outpatient procedure,” Dr. Asaad explains. “So the patient is awake, and that allows us to assess how they’re doing.”
The biggest question: does it hurt? “The most invasive part of the procedure from the patients’ perspective may be that we are required to shave their head completely, and that’s because any little bit of air that gets caught up in between the hair can affect how the ultrasound energy is delivered,” says Dr. Asaad. “There can be a little bit of discomfort, it varies from person to person depending on the geometry of their skull, things like that, and how much energy needs to be delivered. But that typically only lasts a few seconds.”
To be eligible to receive the ultrasound treatment, you must have symptoms that predominantly impact one side of your body such as tremors or other movement concerns, have tried treating with medication, and are unable/unwilling to tolerate traditional surgery. While at the moment the treatment is specifically intended for treating essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease, it is currently being used in trials for other types of procedures including chemotherapy delivery, Alzheimer’s, and other neurogenerative diseases. “There’s a lot of potential for this technology to be used broadly in neurosurgery. But currently the uses are pretty remarkable.”