Doctors in London have used sound waves to successfully operate deep inside the brain.  They treated a man from Cornwall who suffered from uncontrollable tremors in his right hand. Selwyn Lucas, who is 52, can now hold his hand steady and said he felt “fantastic”. The team at St Mary’s hospital used MRI guided focused ultrasound to destroy tissue causing mistimed electrical signals to be sent to muscles. The BBC was given exclusive access to the treatment, which was performed in the imaging department rather than operating theatres, and did not involve surgeons. Dr Peter Bain, consultant neurologist with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, told me ultrasound brain surgery had an “enormous future” and could be used to treat other movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.  Prof Wladyslaw Gedroyc, consultant radiologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “This is a game changer for patients with these movement disorders because we can cure them with a treatment which is completely non-invasive and we don’t have to give unpleasant drugs.” Around one million people in the UK suffer from tremors – uncontrollable shaking of the hands, head or body.  It is a neurological condition usually caused by faulty circuits in the thalamus, a small area at the base of the brain. It can sometimes be treated with drugs, which can have serious side effects, or with brain surgery, but this carries the risk of stroke and infection. I first met Selwyn Lucas a week before his surgery, at Charing Cross hospital, when he attended his final assessment. His right hand does not shake when it is at rest, but begins to vibrate uncontrollably when he goes to use it.  Each time he tried to do something with his hand it began to shake. He was asked to draw a spiral shape and as soon as he put pen to paper his right hand began juddering. This is typical of the condition known as “essential tremor”, which affects one in 25 adults over the age of 40.

No Comments

Leave a Comment