Minimally Invasive Surgery for Hand Tremors

A type of shaking of the hand called a tremor, associated with movement disorders essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson’s disease, can impair your ability to perform daily tasks, such as eating, drinking and writing. Memorial Hermann offers an innovative, minimally invasive treatment called magnetic resonance (MR)-guided focused ultrasound (also called incision-free brain surgery) that can provide immediate and lasting relief from hand tremors associated with these conditions.

What is MR-guided focused ultrasound?

MR-guided focused ultrasound is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure during which the physician uses radiofrequency—focused beams of acoustic energy—to heat and destroy a small, targeted area of tissue in the brain, without harming adjacent tissues. During the treatment, you will lie down on the treatment bed, which will move in and out of the MRI scanner. You will be awake during the procedure so that you can provide feedback about tremor improvement and potential side effects during the treatment. The procedure typically takes about three hours.

What are the benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound?

MR-guided focused ultrasound requires no sedation and no incision. This can lower your risk of infection and shorten your recovery time. Symptoms are typically resolved within minutes, and relief from symptoms can last for up to three years. Patients typically return to their daily activities within a day of the procedure.

What conditions can be treated with MR-guided focused ultrasound?

The procedure is effective in treating patients with ET and Parkinson’s disease.

ET is the most common movement disorder in the world, affecting an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. ET can affect people of any age but is more commonly seen in older adults. There is no identified cause of ET.

Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive, neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement of different parts of the body. It is chronic (persisting over a long period of time) and progressive (worsens over time). Usually affecting older adults, Parkinson's disease can lead to severe disability for some people, but others may suffer only minor motor disorders. Tremor affects about 80% of people with Parkinson's disease.

Traditional treatment options for ET and Parkinson’s disease include medications and surgical interventions, including deep brain stimulation (DBS).

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The information presented on this page is educational and not intended as medical advice or the practice of medicine. Specific aspects of your outcomes and care should be addressed and answered after consultation with your physician.