MINT HILL, NC – In August of 2020, Novant Health announced it would be the first in the Carolinas to offer a scalpel-free treatment for essential and Parkinson’s tremors using intracranial focused ultrasound. The innovative procedure uses sound wave energy to treat brain tissue at the source of the tremor, making brain “surgery” possible without an incision or anesthesia.
The procedure combines magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) and ultrasound to pinpoint the exact location in the brain responsible for the tremor and precisely deliver over 1000 highly focused beams of acoustic energy to that location. In addition to an immediate and significant reduction in hand tremors, the procedure has many ancillary benefits: less risk of infection, a quick recovery time, a shorter hospital stay, and minimal side effects.
79-year old Larry Hicks from Old Fort, NC, was the first patient to undergo the procedure at Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center in the fall of 2020. Before the procedure, Hicks struggled with tremors that made tasks like holding a glass, brushing his teeth and even eating challenging. Hicks’ procedure began at 7:00 am and lasted about four hours; when he left the hospital later that afternoon, his right hand was no longer shaking.
An estimated 7 million Americans have essential tremor, a neurological disorder that most often causes rhythmic shaking in the hands. It may also affect the head, voice, arms, or legs. Parkinson’s Disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder characterized by tremors and shaking, affects an additional 200,000 Americans annually. Over the past three years, Doctor Charles Munyon and his team have helped hundreds of patients suffering from both essential and Parkinson’s tremors find relief.
Recently, David Wilson became the 400th patient to receive the incisionless brain surgery that alleviates essential tremors at Mint Hill Medical Center. No stranger to the procedure, Wilson had it performed on one side of his brain previously. Wilson describes the outcomes of the first procedure as simply “life changing.”
When Wilson had his initial procedure done, FUS was authorized for treatment on only one side of the brain, meaning it only helped symptoms on one side of the body. “Recently, the FDA approved for the second side to be performed, and this patient returned to have the second side done since he had so much success with the first procedure,” said Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center President Joy Greear.
Dr. Charles Munyon and the MRI and nursing team at Mint Hill Medical Center perform these procedures every week, and the hospital is proud to be a member of the InFocus Alliance with other programs around the world that are considered to be centers of excellence for the programs and the outcomes they achieve in patient care. For more information about incisionless treatment for essential tremors, contact the Insightec TiPS (Tremor Information Program Services) line at 1-800-892-0696.