Transcranial focused ultrasound is increasingly being investigated as a minimally invasive treatment for a range of intracranial pathologies. At higher peak rarefaction pressures than those used for thermal ablation, focused ultrasound can initiate inertial cavitation and create holes in the brain by fractionation of the tissue elements. The authors investigated the technical feasibility of using MRI-guided focused ultrasound to perform a third ventriculostomy as a possible noninvasive alternative to endoscopic third ventriculostomy for hydrocephalus.
A craniectomy was performed in male pigs weighing 13–19 kg to expose the supratentorial brain, leaving the dura mater intact. Seven pigs were treated through the craniectomy, while 2 pigs were treated through ex vivo human skulls placed in the beam path. Registration and targeting was done using T2-weighted MRI sequences. For transcranial treatments a CT scan was used to correct the beam from aberrations due to the skull and maintain a small, high-intensity focus. Sonications were performed at both 650 kHz and 230 kHz at a range of intensities, and the in situ pressures were estimated both from simulations and experimental data to establish a threshold for tissue fractionation in the brain.
In craniectomized animals at 650 kHz, a peak pressure ≥ 22.7 MPa for 1 second was needed to reliably create a ventriculostomy. Transcranially at this frequency the ExAblate 4000 was unable to generate the required intensity to fractionate tissue, although cavitation was initiated. At 230 kHz, ventriculostomy was successful through the skull with a peak pressure of 8.8 MPa.
This is the first study to suggest that it is possible to perform a completely noninvasive third ventriculostomy using ultrasound. This may pave the way for future studies and eventually provide an alternative means for the creation of CSF communications in the brain, including perforation of the septum pellucidum or intraventricular membranes.