For the first time in Israel, and with only a handful of precedents in the world, doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center have “ablated” a dysfunctional part of the brain in a patient with essential tremor (ET) using MRIguided ultrasound rather than performing surgery.
A 73-year-old man, who was unable to sign his name clearly or even hold a cup of tea without spilling it, greatly improved from the painless procedure and was completely awake throughout, doctor said. Medical ablation is the removal of tissue by vaporization or other erosive processes.
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The technique of ablation by heat of deep-seated brain tissue through an intact skull was made possible with Israeli technology originally developed to remove myomas (benign fibroid growths in the uterus) but was later applied abroad to ET, which manifests due to a malfunction in the brain. The therapy was made possible by the integration of MRI guidance and the heating of the tissue using focused ultrasound.
The first Israeli patient, a Jerusalem hardware store owner named Sami Zangi, for years could not hold a cup of water without spilling it, tie his shoelaces or use the simplest tools. After the short treatment, he came out of the special MRI scanner and, as his family watched, he wrote in a steady handwriting Herzl’s famous quotation: “If you will it, it is no dream.”