Surgery through sound waves treats essential tremors

Jen Stratton 1 of nearly 10 million in US with the neurological disease

A new incisionless treatment for people living with tremors is now being offered in Central Florida.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jen Stratton is one of nearly 10 million people in the United States with an essential tremor, a neurological disease that typically affects the hands or arms, making it difficult to write or hold a glass of water.

Stratton is now one of the first patients to be approved for a surgery using sound waves.

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“It’s kind of where science fiction meets the operating room,” said Dr. Nizam Razack, a neurosurgeon at UCF Lake Nona Medical Center’s Spine and Brain neurosurgery center.

Razack said the scalpel-free surgery is brand new, starting in Central Florida a couple of months ago.

“It’s transferring energy to the brain, so we’re taking sound energy. It’s ultrasonic energy that’s focused,” Razack said. “It’s being used for women with fibroids. It’s used for men for prostate disease, so it’s already being applied to different parts of the body.”

Razack said the procedure requires no anesthesia, no radiation and no incisions. The entire procedure is done in an MRI scanner, not an operating room.

Stratton said when she arrived to the medical center, she drew a wobbling spiral with her dominant hand.

“You come out, you draw another circle, and we did this three times, and I started to cry, because it was such an amazing difference, and I just knew that it was working,” Stratton said.

Razack has been treating patients with essential tremors for 30 years and calls the results remarkable.

“This instantaneously changes their life, and there are very few things in medicine that do that,” Razack said.

For 40 years, Stratton said she waited for technology like this to treat the tremor she used to call a “life sentence.”

“I’m happy that I’ll be able to take pictures of my kids that aren’t blurry,” Stratton said.

Razack said UCF is doing further research with different light energy sources to see if they can make the procedure even better.