What is your favorite dessert? I am sure that you never thought your surgeon would ask you that question. Well, there is one who does – Bhavya R. Shah, M.D., Assistant Professor of Radiology and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
During consultations with his Essential Tremor patients who were scheduled for Focused Ultrasound, Dr. Shah noticed that they were anxious prior to treatment day. Focused Ultrasound uses ultrasound energy to ablate a small target in the brain considered to be responsible for tremor. Since FDA approval in 2016, adoption of this technology is growing with the number of Focused Ultrasound programs going from 20 in 2019 to 32 today in the US.
Getting ready for any medical procedure can be stressful, so Dr. Shah started asking – “What is your favorite dessert?” By talking about something completely off topic from their health, patients seemed to relax and some even laughed.
Then Dr. Shah thought – what if we bring our patients their favorite dessert so that after their treatment they can cut their own cake? It is important to understand the patients he is treating. A person living with Essential Tremor or Tremor-dominant Parkinson’s Disease may be challenged to function in everyday life. While their hand tremor may start mildly, it usually progresses, making simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt, putting a key in a lock or eating in a restaurant difficult, if not impossible.
During the Focused Ultrasound treatment, spirals are used to test the patient’s hand tremor which progressively improves as the treatment progresses. In the MRI room, Dr. Shah holds up the spirals drawn by the patient as they typically go from uncontrolled to smooth lines for the treatment team to see. This is a collaborative effort with a nurse, two MRI techs, a physicist, and a Neuroradiology fellow watching from the Control Room.
“Everyone is inspired as they can see the transformation taking place in real time,” Dr. Shah comments.
For many patients, after the average 2.5-hour FUS treatment, they can sign their name, bring a bottle of water to their mouth or even cut a cake. As with every medical procedure, there are risks. Insightec-sponsored clinical studies have shown that the most common adverse events associated with this treatment are numbness/tingling, imbalance, unsteadiness, gait disturbance, and musculoskeletal weakness. Patients should discuss in detail the risks and benefits with their physician.
The cake has become a regular celebration following a patient treatment and after a big round of applause from the treatment team.
“The patients walk out of the hospital with a smile,” adds Dr. Shah.
Dr. Shah believes in building trust with his patients during their journey to treatment. He credits his father with instilling in him a strong sense of service to his patients. But it is so much more than service. When one of his patients responded to his question with crème brûlée, Dr. Shah took on the challenge. He went to a local French restaurant and explained to the chef what the Focused Ultrasound team is doing to help patients. You see, crème brûlée should be eaten immediately after preparation and the chef had previously refused to sell it to him. Watch Linda’s video where she thanks Dr. Shah for bringing her crème brûlée on treatment day.
This testimonial may not be representative of all treatment outcomes. For additional information about focused ultrasound for essential tremor, including safety information, please click here.