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Focused ultrasound-mediated suppression of chemically-induced acute epileptic EEG activity

Byoung-Kyong Min1, Alexander Bystritsky2, Kwang-Ik Jung3, Krisztina Fischer1, Yongzhi Zhang1, Lee-So Maeng4, Sang In Park4, Yong-An Chung4, Ferenc A Jolesz1 and Seung-Schik Yoo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

2 The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

3 Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Medical College of Hallym University, Anyang, Korea

4 Institute of Catholic Integrative Medicine (ICIM), Incheon Saint Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Incheon, Korea

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BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-23

Published: 6 March 2011



Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder, which is attributed to uncontrollable abnormal hyper-excitability of neurons. We investigated the feasibility of using low-intensity, pulsed radiation of focused ultrasound (FUS) to non-invasively suppress epileptic activity in an animal model (rat), which was induced by the intraperitonial injection of pentylenetetrazol (PTZ).


After the onset of induced seizures, FUS was transcranially administered to the brain twice for three minutes each while undergoing electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring. An air-backed, spherical segment ultrasound transducer (diameter: 6 cm; radius-of-curvature: 7 cm) operating at a fundamental frequency of 690 KHz was used to deliver a train of 0.5 msec-long pulses of sonication at a repetitive rate of 100 Hz to the thalamic areas of the brain. The acoustic intensity (130 mW/cm2) used in the experiment was sufficiently within the range of safety guidelines for the clinical ultrasound imaging. The occurrence of epileptic EEG bursts from epilepsy-induced rats significantly decreased after sonication when it was compared to the pre-sonication epileptic state. The PTZ-induced control group that did not receive any sonication showed a sustained number of epileptic EEG signal bursts. The animals that underwent sonication also showed less severe epileptic behavior, as assessed by the Racine score. Histological analysis confirmed that the sonication did not cause any damage to the brain tissue.


These results revealed that low-intensity, pulsed FUS sonication suppressed the number of epileptic signal bursts using acute epilepsy model in animal. Due to its non-invasiveness and spatial selectivity, FUS may offer new perspectives for a possible non-invasive treatment of epilepsy.