A new Canadian technology developed at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Ont. labeled focal ultrasound an important new treatment modality.
Most recently it drew attention because Paul Hudspith, a 52-year-old engineer from King City, Ont. received treatment for a brain tumor. He has received two treatments of focal ultrasound to treat his glioblastoma, a very difficult to treat tumor.
How does focal ultrasound work?
Ultrasound is an old technique that is in use to penetrate tissue and depict images of internal organs. But focal ultrasound is a new technique where the ultrasound beams focus on one focal point. This produces a lot of energy at this point that can burn cancer tissue. But physicians can also use the technique to cause focal ablation of normal tissue in the case of chronic depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Circuits of negative thinking or obsessive-compulsive thinking can be interrupted by focal ultrasound treatment. This helps these otherwise chronically disabled people to have a normal life again.
Making blood brain barrier permeable
Focal ultrasound can also create holes in the blood brain barrier for a period of time. This way drugs and antibodies can penetrate the blood brain barrier that normally would not be able to penetrate it. After a few days though the body heals the blood brain barrier again.
Bipolar disorder, eating disorders or substance-use disorder
Dr. Anthony Levitt is the chief of the Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. He said that misfiring circuits cause all these disorders. The use of functional MRI scans can locate these circuits, and focal ultrasound will disrupt them. This normalizes the patients’ thinking and cures them from their afflictions. In addition, using this new technique physicians can treat patients with Parkinson’s disease and with essential tremor with focal ultrasound.
Focal ultrasound is a new Canadian intervention that has broad applications. It can be a tool to burn brain tumor tissue in the case of a glioblastoma. But it can also be helpful interrupting detrimental circuits in patients with chronic depression or obsessive-compulsive thinking. Patients with tremor or Parkinson’s disease may also benefit from focal ultrasound. Two cases were highlighted in a review of this new technology, a patient who was cured of a glioblastoma. The second case was a woman with a 30-year history of chronic depression who also benefited from this new technique. She was cured by focal ultrasound.