We all think about ultrasound as something that expectant mothers have during their pregnancy and as a medical imaging tool like an X-Ray but this is only part of the story.
Some interesting recent research about a procedure called focused ultrasound (FUS) thalamotomy showed that is can be used to reduce tremor in those people that cannot be controlled by medications. Using focused ultrasound waves the cells, in a tiny area deep in the brain called the thalamus which cause the tremor, are destroyed. Surgical thalamotomy has been around for a long, Michael J Fox had it done in the 90's. The benefit of the using focused ultrasound is that the procedure is totally non invasive and the area that needs to be treated can targeted very precisely with no damage to surrounding brain tissue, whilst there is still the possibility of some unwanted side effects it is still safer than open brain surgery.
Focused Ultrasound may also be able to be used to temporarily open the blood brain barrier to enable certain medications to get to the brain that would otherwise be blocked. Our brain is surrounded by a protective barrier called the blood brain barrier that prevents toxins and many chemicals, including some medications, from entering the brain. When we do find medications to slow or stop Parkinson's this may provide us with the ability to get the medication to the area of the brain where it is needed.
Transcranial sonography is a ultrasound technique that can be of assistance in the diagnosis of Parkinson's. This is sometimes used to help differentiate Parkinson's from other conditions which are similar.
Whilst we focus on finding ways to slow, stop, reverse or prevent Parkinson's it is equally important that we don't forget about better diagnosis, support and treatments for people that are living with Parkinson's now.
For more information on Parkinson's ring the Parkinson's infoline on 1800 644 189 or go to our website www.parkinsons.org.au