The Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute announced last week that Jersey Shore University Medical Center [JSUMC] has begun treating patients with minimally invasive MRI-guided focused ultrasound (HiFu).
The technology is used to treat hand tremors, or involuntary and rhythmic shaking affecting people with certain neurological conditions and is available thanks to a generous gift by the Golden Dome Foundation.
With the addition of this state-of-the-art treatment at Jersey Shore, there are now two locations in New Jersey where it is offered. Hackensack Meridian Health is the only health network in the state providing this treatment, which has been available at the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center since 2021. There are few facilities in the nation providing HiFu.
91-year-old Lakewood, NJ, resident Irwin Sachs was the first patient to receive the advanced treatment.
“I am so happy I was able to receive this advanced treatment, close to home, without having to travel to Philadelphia or New York,” said Irwin. “And the care I received from my nurses and, in fact, the entire team was remarkable and compassionate.”
The treatment is performed, as part of the academic medical center’s Movement Disorder Program, with the Exablate® Neuro platform, developed by medical technology company Insightec. The treatment is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease and Parkinson’s disease that has not responded to medications.
Focused ultrasound uses acoustic energy that travels through the skin and skull, allowing the procedure to be performed without any incisions. Under MRI guidance, the acoustic energy is precisely focused on a targeted area deep in the brain. They converge to heat the target tissue, which disrupts the abnormal signals that cause tremor. The focused ultrasound system, together with MRI imaging, includes safety features that measure temperature changes in the skull and reduce the risk of damage to surrounding brain tissue.
The International Essential Tremor Foundation estimates 10 million Americans have essential tremor and approximately another one million are living with Parkinson’s Disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
“MRI-guided focused ultrasound is a remarkable evolution in the treatment of movement disorders with its potential to instantly decrease or eliminate tremors, improving quality of life for millions of patients,” said Chair of Neurosurgery, JSUMC Shabbar F. Danish, M.D., FAANS.
Since the focused ultrasound procedure is non invasive, requiring no incisions and performed while the patient is awake, it is done as an outpatient procedure.
“Patients don’t need extended recovery in the hospital after the procedure and may return to everyday activities rapidly, as they experience immediate improvement,” said Dr. Danish, who provides the focused ultrasound procedure for patients.
Initially medicare and insurance only covered patients having the treatment done on one side, meaning patients with tremors on both sides of their body had to pick which side is more important to stop the tremors in.
“This year, the FDA and Medicare approved the use of HiFu on both sides of the body,” Dr Danish said. “My colleagues at the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center began treating returning patients who were so impressed with the success of HiFu on the first side, they are returning to have it done on their non-dominant side. We expect the same success for our patients.”
The benefits of MRI-guided focused ultrasound include:
No surgical incisions
Little risk of infection
A return to everyday activities potentially the same day
Performed as an outpatient procedure — no overnight hospital stay required
Immediate reduction in tremors
Strong safety and clinical efficacy data
Minimal side effects
“Our neurosurgical experts are continuing to provide the communities we serve with leading-edge medical technologies and treatments unavailable at most hospitals in New Jersey,” said Vito Buccellato, MPA, LNHA, president and chief hospital executive, Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
The Movement Disorder Program’s multidisciplinary team of experts, including neurologists, nurse practitioners, neuropsychologists and neuro rehabilitation specialists treat neurological conditions that cause abnormal, increased or reduced body movements that are typically involuntary. They include Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremors and Dystonia, among others. The program provides an array of medical, noninvasive and surgical treatments to specifically address and manage movement disorders, such as complex medical management, Botulinum (Botox) toxin injections, deep brain stimulation (DBS), MRI-guided laser therapy, physical, occupational and speech therapy and nutrition counseling.
The Dr. Robert H. Harris Neuroscience Treatment Center, part of the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at JSUMC, provides patients with a comprehensive lineup of neurological services for spine injuries, nerve reconstruction, headaches and migraines, epilepsy, MS, ALS, brain tumors, memory and more, as well as Monmouth and Ocean counties’ only comprehensive Stroke Rescue Center. The academic medical center was recognized by Healthgrades as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Stroke Care, and with Neurosciences Excellence Awards in 2021-2024 as well as Cranial Neurosurgery Excellence Awards in 2022-2024.
“MRI-guided focused ultrasound is another example of how Jersey Shore’s neuroscience specialists continue to push the boundaries of medicine to provide the best care, allowing New Jersey residents living in the state’s central and southern regions to stay close to home while receiving state-of-the-art treatments and therapies,” said Kenneth N. Sable, M.D., MBA, FACEP, regional president, Southern Market, Hackensack Meridian Health.
The minimally invasive MRI-guided focused ultrasound was made possible by a generous donation by the Golden Dome Foundation. The Golden Dome Foundation is a NJ-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that was founded in 2015 by the late Dr. Robert H. Harris and his wife — the organization’s current president — Mary Ellen Harris, to support charitable causes. Over the span of several years, Golden Dome Foundation has invested heavily at Hackensack Meridian Health medical centers, including Bayshore Medical Center and Ocean University Medical Center, in addition to JSUMC.
“Advancing research to improve the quality of life for patients facing diseases and disorders was so important to my husband,” said Mary Ellen Harris. “Making this gift enables me to further his legacy by investing in life-saving technology in support of patients in New Jersey. Our local community needs access to the highest quality of care and I am incredibly honored to be able to play a part in ensuring that it can be provided to those in need. I hope that this new equipment improves the lives of so many who are suffering.”
To make an appointment with a movement disorder specialist in Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s HOPE Tower, 19 Davis Ave., Neptune, NJ, call 732-974-0003 or email email@example.com. For more information about neuroscience services, visit www.hackensackmeridianhealth.