Ultrasound in the Treatment of Brain Diseases

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Ultrasound is not only used as an imaging technique but targeted pulses of ultrasound can be used as a highly accurate treatment for a range of brain diseases, for which there were previously only limited treatment options.

Over the last few years, several revolutionary techniques of this kind have been developed, primarily in Toronto but also at MedUni Vienna.

The Viennese technique improves brain functions by externally activating neurons that are still functional. Improvements can be expected in various neuropsychiatric brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, and neuralgia.

A review jointly written by MedUni Vienna and the University of Toronto and published in the specialist journal “Advanced Science” shows that the new treatments are already on the brink of broad clinical application.

Over the last few years, new concepts for ultrasound brain therapy have been developed. Highly focused ultrasonic waves can now be used for non-invasive surgery, focal delivery of therapeutics or genes to selected areas of the brain and therapeutic modulation of neural networks in various brain diseases.

According to Roland Beisteiner, who oversaw the development of the new method of transcranial pulsed stimulation with ultrasound (TPS) at the Department of Neurology of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, the new ultrasound techniques are not just a “take-it-or-leave-it” choice but a genuine advantage for clinical practice.

“The techniques developed in Vienna and Toronto represent innovative additional options we can use to supplement the existing established treatments. The patient data that has now been published show that the transcranial ultrasound innovations are safe and ready for broad clinical application.” The huge extra advantage of the Viennese technique is that it is virtually free from any side-effects.

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