High-intensity focused ultrasound surgery of the brain: part 1--A historical perspective with modern applications

Neurosurgery. 2009 Feb;64(2):201-10; discussion 210-1. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000336766.18197.8E.


The field of magnetic resonance imaging-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) is a rapidly evolving one, with many potential applications in neurosurgery. The first of 3 articles on MRgFUS, this article focuses on the historical development of the technology and its potential applications in modern neurosurgery. The evolution of MRgFUS has occurred in parallel with modern neurological surgery, and the 2 seemingly distinct disciplines share many of the same pioneering figures. Early studies on focused ultrasound treatment in the 1940s and 1950s demonstrated the ability to perform precise lesioning in the human brain, with a favorable risk-benefit profile. However, the need for a craniotomy, as well as the lack of sophisticated imaging technology, resulted in limited growth of high-intensity focused ultrasound for neurosurgery. More recently, technological advances have permitted the combination of high-intensity focused ultrasound along with magnetic resonance imaging guidance to provide an opportunity to effectively treat a variety of central nervous system disorders. Although challenges remain, high-intensity focused ultrasound-mediated neurosurgery may offer the ability to target and treat central nervous system conditions that were previously extremely difficult to address. The remaining 2 articles in this series will focus on the physical principles of modern MRgFUS as well as current and future avenues for investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / surgery*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis
  • Brain Diseases / surgery*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / trends*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / trends*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / trends*