First Walton Centre patient receives ground-breaking treatment for Essential Tremor
The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust has rolled out a new service using cutting-edge treatment for people living with Essential Tremor – a neurological disorder that causes an uncontrollable shake or trembling in a part of the body.
The UK’s first specialist neurosciences hospital won the contract to deliver the new service at the end of 2021, which will make it the first centre in the north of England, second in the country overall, to offer an incisionless treatment for the condition. Called Trans-cranial MR-guided Focused Ultrasound, or Focused Ultrasound for short, it involves thermal tissue ablation, targeted at the key areas of the brain causing the tremors.
With more than one million people living with Essential Tremor in the UK, around 25 per cent are severely disabled by their tremors.
Maureen Greenough, pictured below, had been living with Essential Tremor for several years before being the first to be offered this innovative treatment at The Walton Centre. The procedure was a complete success and she no longer has tremors in her right hand-side.
She said: “I couldn’t believe how immediate the change was. As soon as I left the treatment room I noticed that my right hand had stopped shaking, it was like the team at The Walton centre had flipped a switch! Before this my writing was terrible, I couldn’t hold a cup without using both hands. I felt a lot of embarrassment and I didn’t feel comfortable eating in front of people.
“Now that’s all changed. We’re planning a holiday this year and we have a wedding in the summer to go to – I now cannot wait! The treatment The Walton Centre provides is excellent, and I will be forever grateful to the team for helping me.”
Eligible patients get one Focused Ultrasound treatment to reduce the tremors on one side of their body. Current regulatory approvals demonstrate good clinical durability, with tremor relief maintained at three years.
The Walton Centre’s Medical Director Dr Andrew Nicolson said: “We consider this treatment a game-changer for our patients with Essential Tremor. Those eligible will be able to have the treatment and see their symptoms on one side of their body essentially disappear. Usually to achieve this effect in Movement Disorders, it would require much more invasive surgical intervention. It’s been an incredible team effort and the first treatment today marks the start of an invaluable service we can offer our patients.”
Mr Jibril Osman Farah, Consultant Neurosurgeon and one of the lead clinicians for this project, hopes that the waiting list can be reduced significantly now The Walton Centre can offer the treatment.
He said: “Those patients in the north of England waiting for this treatment can now come here to Liverpool, rather than have to wait to be treated in London, which can be difficult to get to. Focused Ultrasound is a groundbreaking treatment for patients with Essential Tremor. To test how effective the treatment is we ask patients to draw spirals before, during and after, and the results are so striking. Before it was a scribble, and after it is a clear spiral, the tremors are drastically reduced. I’m so proud of the team and how we’ve pulled together to bring this treatment to patients here at The Walton Centre.”
The innovative technology was developed and implemented by Insightec, who have worked closely with The Walton Centre to deliver this new treatment to patients in the North of England.
Maurice R. Ferré MD, Insightec CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors said: “We are deeply committed to continuing to transform patient care with minimally invasive, innovative surgical procedures. The Exablate system will help support a better quality of life for people diagnosed and living with Essential Tremor.”
For more information about Focused Ultrasound, go to The Walton Centre website.