What is High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)


HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) is a highly precise procedure using high intensity, focused ultrasound to heat and destroy diseased tissue.

HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound) is a highly precise procedure using high intensity, focused ultrasound to heat and destroy diseased tissue. The history of using therapeutic ultrasound dates back to early in the 20th century. Technology has continually improved and additional clinical applications, both diagnostic and therapeutic, have become an integral part of medicine today.

In HIFU therapy, Ultrasound beams are focused on diseased tissue, and due to the significant energy deposition at the focus, temperature within the tissue rises to more than 65°C, destroying the diseased tissue. This technology can achieve precise "ablation" of diseased tissue, therefore being called HIFU surgery. Because it destroys the diseased tissue non-invasively, it is also known as "Non-invasive HIFU surgery".

An important difference between HIFU and many other forms of focused energy, such as radiation therapy or radio surgery, is that the passage of ultrasound energy through intervening tissue has no apparent cumulative effect on that tissue. While treatment of uterine fibroids was once solely the domain of OBGYN surgeons, the development of this non-invasive treatment has made treatment more multidisciplinary - to the benefit of the patient.

Development of HIFU therapy has been greatly enhanced through the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to guide and monitor the procedure. This therapy is more accurately called MRgFUS (MR guided Focused UltraSound).

This therapy describes the clinical application of FUS (focused ultrasound) using a high-quality method of medical imaging to guide, monitor, and control the size and location of the therapeutic focal beam. Since FUS works by causing tissue coagulation, optimal control of the treatment can be achieved by monitoring and controlling the temperature. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used for both precise imaging and FUS targeting and real time monitoring of temperature making optimal use of these medical developments.

Development of this therapy significantly broadened the range of treatment options for patients suffering from uterine fibroids, offering an alternative therapy for the patients. In contrast to surgery, it requires only a short period of hospitalization and has a low complication rate.

MRgFUS has received FDA approval for treatment of uterine fibroids and this non-invasive treatment is currently available to women in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, Hungary and Israel. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate MRgFUS treatment of cancerous tumors in the breast, liver, brain and bone.


Reprinted with permission of Uterine-Fibroids.org

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