The reduction in treatment efficiency at high acoustic powers during MR-guided transcranial focused ultrasound thalamotomy for Essential Tremor

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PurposeTo analyze clinical data indicating a reduction in the induced energy–temperature efficiency relationship during transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS) Essential Tremor (ET) thalamotomy treatments at higher acoustic powers, establish its relationship with the spatial distribution of the focal temperature elevation, and explore its cause.MethodsA retrospective observational study of patients (n = 19) treated between July 2015 and August 2016 for (ET) by FUS thalamotomy was performed. These data were analyzed to compare the relationships between the applied power, the applied energy, the resultant peak temperature achieved in the brain, and the dispersion of the focal volume. Full ethics approval was received and all patients provided signed informed consent forms before the initiation of the study. Computer simulations, animal experiments, and clinical system tests were performed to determine the effects of skull heating, changes in brain properties and transducer acoustic output, respectively. All animal procedures were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee and conformed to the guidelines set out by the Canadian Council on Animal Care. MATLAB was used to perform statistical analysis.ResultsThe reduction in the energy efficiency relationship during treatment correlates with the increase in size of the focal volume at higher sonication powers. A linear relationship exists showing that a decrease in treatment efficiency correlates positively with an increase in the focal size over the course of treatment (P < 0.01), supporting the hypothesis of transient skull and tissue heating causing acoustic aberrations leading to a decrease in efficiency. Changes in thermal conductivity, perfusion, absorption rates in the brain, as well as ultrasound transducer acoustic output levels were found to have minimal effects on the observed reduction in efficiency.ConclusionsThe reduction in energy–temperature efficiency during high-power FUS treatments correlated with observed increases in the size of the focal volume and is likely caused by transient changes in the tissue and skull during heating.

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