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An ultrasound treatment for essential and Parkinson’s tremors can now be used in Delaware

Quinn Kirkpatrick
Delaware Public Media

ChristianaCare is the first health care provider in the state to offer a certain-type of treatment for essential and Parkinson’s tremors.

The FDA-approved MR-guided focused ultrasound uses sound wave energy to remove areas of brain tissue that are the source of a tremor.

This treatment is turning out to be a better alternative for patients not responding well to traditional methods, and it’s also less invasive.

ChristianaCare’s Dr. Justin Martello says there’s one main difference between this ultrasound treatment and traditional methods.

"It being less invasive, so especially for older patients who maybe are not great surgical candidates for a number of reasons or they're on blood thinners or they just are diabetic or have other medical conditions where a more invasive procedure would not be good for their bodies this would be a much easier thing to go through," said Martello.

Martello helped to bring this type of treatment to ChristianaCare and Delaware.

He explains how it works.

"You're in an MRI machine, and that's how we know what area of your brain to target because this tremor center is the same for everyone or at least the location of it is. What we can do is we can take a thousand ultrasound waves, and if they all intersect at one area it can essentially heat up that area of cells. And if we heat up the area of the cells enough we can actually cause them to essentially die and stop the tremors," said Martello.

The treatment is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans, and patients only need to be over 22 to be eligible.

Martello notes anyone interested after medicines either failed or they can’t tolerate them, can be referred to ChristianaCare for this treatment.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.