Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early stage, noninvasive therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with depression. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasonic energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces a variety of therapeutic effects enabling treatment without incisions or radiation.
Current treatments for depression include medications, electroconvulsive therapy, surgery (radiofrequency or laser ablation, deep brain stimulation), or stereotactic radiosurgery (gamma knife, linear accelerator), all of which have limitations and side effects. Focused ultrasound has the potential to provide an alternative to invasive surgery or radiosurgery via precise thermal ablation, or to augment drug therapy.
- Focused ultrasound is non-invasive – no incisions, holes in the skull, electrodes in the brain – and therefore has reduced risk for infection and blood clots.
- Precise targeting minimizes damage to non-targeted healthy brain.
- Treatment can be a complement to drug therapy, enabling enhanced delivery of therapies into the brain via temporary opening of the blood-brain barrier.
A clinical trial was completed at the YUMC Severance Hospital in Seoul, Korea evaluated the feasibility, safety and initial efficacy of focused ultrasound in the treatment of major depressive disorder for patients who are not candidates for, or who choose not to undergo, more invasive procedures.
A clinical trial evaluating treatment of patients with refractory major depressive disorder has begun in Canada. This trial is only open to citizens of Canada.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound is not approved by any regulatory bodies worldwide as a treatment for depression, nor is the treatment reimbursed by medical insurance providers.
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