Focused ultrasound lets surgeons treat brain diseases without opening the skull
By Neel V. Patel
Brain surgery is fraught with huge risks and uncertainty. Parts of the skull (and sometimes most of it) need to be removed, a lengthy and harrowing procedure that could expose the brain to infection and almost always results in significant postoperative pain. Once the surgeon makes the first incision, the smallest error could have devastating consequences—seizure, loss of sensory or motor function, stroke, or even coma. But what if you could slice through the brain without removing any of the skull—create incisions inside the brain from the outside?
Through “transcranial focused ultrasound,” physicians can now use high frequencies of ultrasound (typically from 650 to 710 kilohertz) to create discrete lesions in brain tissue without making direct physical cuts. Patients and doctors alike hope this could be a transformative tool for treating many different psychiatric and neurological disorders more easily and more effectively. …[Read more]