The large helmet is the ExAblate 4000, a magnetic resonance guided high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) device, by Israel's Insightec. ExAblate 4000 has been tested successfully to isolate and destroy the
smallest of tumors in the brain, without affecting the surrounding tissues or bones. Now, researchers are looking at the
technology to do the same with blood clots that can lead to stroke.
ExAblate 4000 by Insightec: (Image via PopSci)
Thilo Hoelscher, a neurologist at the University of California, San Diego, is one of several researchers who are trying to overcome the special obstacles to use of ExAblate 4000 for breaking up blood clots. The two means of blood clot removal currently, drugs and surgery, have limited use, as only 10 percent of patients are candidates for these therapies.
Hoelsher and his team have already tested the InSightec device successfully on animal and human cadaver blood clots. But before moving to the next step, testing the device on live humans, the team must figure out how to dissipate the heating of the brain caused by the ultrasound and find the best way to precisely target the ultrasound beams.
If these obstacles are overcome, it's very possible that the sci-fi-looking ExAblate 4000 will be able to break up blood clots before they become strokes. Hoelscher is hoping to start human tests by the end of 2011.
Strokes are the third cause of death in the and the most common cause of long-term disability in the U.S.
Tech Review via PopSci.com