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MRI scans can help treat the tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease, says study

Published on:16 June 2020, 12:49pm IST
We all know that Parkinson’s is incurable but according to this study, an MRI shows promising results in its treatment.
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Dementia, depression, and emotional changes are some common complications in Parkinson’s patients. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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A shaky walk or tremors felt in arms are some of the most common signs of Parkinson’s disease. This disease is a nervous system disorder that is incurable but with proper medication, the situation can be kept under control.

One of the earlier signs of Parkinson’s is tremors and slurred speech. These signs get worse as the time passes by.

But a recent development might give you some hope. New research led by UT Southwestern researchers was published in the journal Brain which suggests that a new MRI technique has been developed that will help in the treatment of tremors in people dealing with Parkinson’s.

According to researchers, this might help in the treatment without surgery
MRI techniques are used to more precisely target a small area in the brain linked to Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. The discovery may lead to better outcomes without surgery and with less risk of negative effects.

According to them, these recently refined MRI methods are designed to allow neuroradiologists to zero in on a pea-sized region in the brain’s thalamus involved in the movement. 

The doctors can use these images to burn away the problem tissue, says Bhavya R. Shah, M.D., first author of the study and an assistant professor of radiology and neurological surgery at UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

Shah says:

The benefit for patients is that we will be better able to target the brain structures than we want. And because we’re not hitting the wrong target, we’ll have fewer adverse effects.

The procedures are already Food and Drug Administration-approved for use in patients, and UTSW plans to begin employing them to treat patients when its Neuro High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Program opens this fall.

Signs of Parkinson’s can be treated in 20% cases, says expert
The most common signs of Parkinson’s is problems in walking or slurring words. While such effects are usually temporary, they can be permanent in 15 to 20 percent of cases, says Dr. Shah.

According to the National Institutes of Health, essential tremor affects up to 10 million Americans and Parkinson’s disease impacts more than 1 million. Medication is the first line of treatment for involuntary trembling or shaking. However, approximately 30% of patients do not respond well to drugs, according to the study.

Parkinson's disease
Researches are going on to discover a new drug for all those who are suffering from Parkinson’s. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Thanks to this new MRI-guided procedure the patient does not require opening the skull, and the patient is awake while it is performed, says Dr. Shah. “No cuts. No anesthesia. No implanted devices.”

According to Dr. Shah, it was very difficult to locate the precise area inside the brain’s thalamus to treat the pea-sized ventral intermediate nucleus. But with this technique, it is doable.

Three newly refined MRI techniques are better at delineating the target tissue, according to the study.

The technique used in this MRI creates precise brain images by taking into account the natural water movement within tissues.

break-up
Help your parents so that they can deal with this disease better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The other methods described are quantitative susceptibility mapping – which creates contrast in the image by detecting distortions in the magnetic field caused by substances such as iron or blood – and fast grey matter acquisition TI inversion recovery – which operates much like a photo negative, turning the brain’s white matter dark and it’s grey matter white in order to provide greater detail in the grey matter.

Also, read: The Mediterranean diet can help you live a long and healthy life. Here’s why

Dr. Shah and his team plan to participate in a multicenter clinical trial with collaborators at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, testing the diffusion tractography method in patients.

So, fingers crossed! We hope the trials for this MRI scan show some positive results and people who are dealing with Parkinson’s can get their symptoms treated in time so that they can lead a better life.

(With inputs from ANI)

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