Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center Becomes First and Only Center in New Jersey to Offer Incisionless Neurosurgical Tremor Treatment

HACKENSACK, NJ – On June 14, 2021, Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center became the first and only center in New Jersey — and one of only a few in the country — to offer noninvasive MRI-guided focused ultrasound to treat hand tremors, or involuntary and rhythmic shaking that affects people with certain neurological conditions.

The treatment is performed with the Exablate® Neuro platform, developed by medical technology company Insightec and is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease that has not responded to medications. 

Focused ultrasound uses sound waves that travel through the skin and skull, which means that the procedure can be performed without any incisions. Under MRI guidance, the sound waves are precisely focused on a targeted area deep in the brain. The sound waves converge to  heat the target tissue, which disrupts the abnormal signals that cause tremor.  

The focused ultrasound system together with the MRI includes safety features that measure temperature changes in the skull and reduce the risk of damage to surrounding brain tissue. 

“Essential tremor affects 10 million Americans, and Parkinson’s disease affects approximately one million Americans,” said Hooman Azmi, M.D., director, Division of Functional and Restorative Neurosurgery at the Hackensack University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute and associate professor of neurosurgery at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine who will treat patients using focused ultrasound technology. “MR-guided focused ultrasound is an amazing development because it has the potential to instantaneously decrease or eliminate tremors and improve quality of life for millions of patients who are living with a movement disorder.” 

And because the focused ultrasound procedure is noninvasive, requires no incisions and is performed while the patient is awake, treatment often can be done on an outpatient basis. 

“Patients who undergo focused ultrasound treatment experience immediate improvement and don’t need to stay overnight in the hospital,” said Dr. Azmi. “That means patients require little downtime after the procedure and can return to everyday activities sooner.” 

The benefits of MR-guided focused ultrasound include: 

  • No surgical incisions
  • Little to no risk of infection
  • A return to everyday activities in a few days
  • Performed as an outpatient procedure — no overnight hospital stay required
  • Immediate reduction in tremors
  • Strong safety and clinical efficacy data
  • Minimal side effects 

“Hackensack University Medical Center is the only center in New Jersey to offer this groundbreaking procedure, so we can offer our patients a treatment for tremors that isn’t available elsewhere in the state,” said Mark Sparta, FACHE, president and chief hospital executive, Hackensack University Medical Center and executive vice president of Population Health, Hackensack Meridian Health. “Without the need for invasive brain surgery, our neurosurgery experts will be able to provide leading-edge, life-changing treatment for patients with tremor-dominant movement disorders.”

“Many patients experience immediate improvement with minimal complications,” said Patrick Roth, M.D., chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Hackensack University Medical Center. “By expanding their access to this treatment, we can help restore confidence and independence for people suffering from debilitating tremors.” 

“With the addition of focused ultrasound technology at Hackensack University Medical Center, patients in New Jersey no longer have to travel to access this incredible treatment option,” said Randy Thomas, director, Orthopedics, Neuroscience, Hackensack University Medical Center. “Our neurosurgery team can now offer this treatment option close to home without the need for an overnight hospital stay or lengthy recovery time, making the treatment more convenient for patients and caregivers.”

“The Hackensack University Medical Center Neuroscience Institute is at the forefront of movement disorder treatment, and we are proud to be one of only a few centers in the country to offer MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment to our patients,” said Florian  Thomas, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at Hackensack University Medical Center and at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. “This treatment provides hope for patients whose tremor symptoms have not responded to other therapies and offers a noninvasive option that can deliver immediate and outstanding results.”

Watch this video that captures our first patient’s procedure and for more information, contact Mary McGeever at 551-795-1675 or [email protected]. Photos of our first patient also attached. 

 

ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH HACKENSACK UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER

Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, a 771-bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is now part of the largest, most comprehensive, and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research, and life-enhancing care, which comprises 35,000 team members and more than 7,000 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center is ranked #2 in New Jersey and #59 in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019-20 Best Hospital rankings and is ranked high-performing in the U.S. in colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, COPD, heart failure, heart bypass surgery, aortic valve surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, knee replacement and hip replacement. Out of 4,500 hospitals evaluated, Hackensack is one of only 57 that received a top rating in all nine procedures and conditions. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2018. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 26 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its sixth consecutive designation in 2019. Hackensack University Medical Center has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: John Theurer Cancer Center, a consortium member of the NCI-designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. Hackensack University Medical Center is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to THE NORTHERN TRUST PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events, especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.

 

ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive, and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research, and life-enhancing care.

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 36,000 team members, and 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having four of its hospitals are among the top hospitals in New Jersey for 2020-21, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, the health system has more top-ranked hospitals than any system in New Jersey. Children’s Health is again ranked a top provider of pediatric health care in the United States and earned top 50 rankings in the annual U.S. News’ 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals report.   Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list.

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. The Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions.

Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

 

To learn more, visit www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org.

 

About INSIGHTEC

INSIGHTEC is a fast-growing global medical technology innovator transforming patient lives through incisionless surgery. The company’s award-winning Exablate® Neuro is the first and only focused ultrasound platform approved by the FDA to treat essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease that has not responded to medications.