Sound Wave Neurosurgery
by Mark R
I’m sure all of you have seen Ghostbusters, a movie with jokes that never get old, even after 25 years. There was one line I remember that isn’t quoted as often as “He slimed me”. It’s when Bill Murray says to Harold Ramis: “Hey, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole in your head, remember?” To which Ramis replies: “That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me.”
That’s all we hear of that incident during that film. Still, the idea of drilling someone in the head to cure them of ills goes back to ancient times. Fortunately, High-intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) beams can do the same thing, with less, ahem, penetration.
All one needs is an MRI machine and ultrasonic device, and doctors have a way of pinpointing malignant areas with soundwaves and burning them off. It has already been used to remove benign tumors in the uterus, and it appears that it can do the same for the breasts and the brain.
Of course, the biggest problem with using ultrasonics on a patient’s head is that they tend to overheat his or her brain. I realize that wouldn’t be comforting to any patient with a brain tumor, but InSightec has developed a head harness so that cooler heads will prevail.
HIFU could also be used on other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. I’m guessing Team Fox is going to be looking into this one.