Your Health: Brain surgery without cutting

Your Health: Brain surgery without cutting
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 5:26 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - For many people living with epilepsy, or movement disorders - like Parkinson’s and Tourette’s syndrome - brain surgery becomes the only treatment option.

An estimated 42 million Americans struggle with movement disorders. Medications may work for some but not for everyone.

Scientists at the University of Virginia and Stanford have developed a procedure that can non-invasively remove faulty brain cells. It’s called ping.

“What it does is, we hope, at least, will be the next step in intervention in those individuals that don’t respond to drugs,” said Dr. Kevin Lee.

Ping uses focused ultrasound waves combined with tiny microbubbles.

“What’s different about ping is we’re going in with a much lighter, a lower intensity treatment,” Lee said.

The ultrasound and microbubbles briefly open the protective barrier that normally surrounds the brain. Doctors administer an IV drug that travels to the faulty brain neurons and kills them, leaving healthy cells intact.

“You’d like to knock out the area that’s causing the problems, the real culprit cells, but spare the things passing through that are still functional,” Lee said. “Ping will do that.”

Brain surgery with no cutting needed. Researchers said approach could be used on irregular shaped targets in the brain that are difficult to reach by scalpel or laser.

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