High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, which is commonly referred to as HIFU, is an acoustic ablation technology that harnesses the power of ultrasound waves to destroy deep-seated tissue in areas of the body that are hard to reach with traditional treatments. When used to treat prostate cancer, it is a highly effective treatment option that is able to target and destroy the prostate gland and its cancerous tissue with pinpoint accuracy. HIFU works by quickly increasing the temperature in specific focal zones high enough to destroy the tissue.
Many prostate cancer treatments have high incidences of side effects, particularly incontinence and impotence. This risk is significantly reduced with the control and precision offered to physicians using HIFU technology.
A typical HIFU treatment takes between two and three hours and is performed one time on an outpatient basis. It is a non-ionizing, radiation-free technology, and can be repeated if necessary without causing adverse affects to the surrounding tissues. This benefit also means that HIFU can be used as a prostate cancer salvage technique when other non-repeatable treatments fail.
HIFU technology is similar to the scientific principle that allows sunlight focused through a magnifying glass to burn a leaf. The ultrasound waves, like the sun's rays, are focused into a single intersection point called a focal zone. At this focal zone, temperatures are raised quickly to the point of tissue destruction. This is highly accurate and repeatable, and the entire process is monitored in real time.
A computer-controlled HIFU delivery device delivers the ultrasound energy through a transrectal probe in order to remove prostate disease. The device uses integrated biplanar ultrasound imaging to allow the physician to plan the treatment and monitor it in real-time during and after the treatment. This imaging technology also allows the physician to locate and avoid vital structures, including the seminal vesicles, rectal wall, neurovascular bundles, and prostate capsule, which lowers the side effect risk.
Future Uses of HIFU
Future uses of HIFU include focal therapy, thereby only treating the areas of the prostate where cancer exists as opposed to treating the whole gland.
HIFU is not approved in the United States and is currently only being used within the country as a part of clinical trials. Patients who are not part of these trials can travel to one of the many clinics around the world that are treating patients. Clinics can be found in Europe, Central America, Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Canada.
HIFU has been used to treat prostate cancer since 1995, and over 30,000 HIFU procedures have been performed around the world. Chesapeake Urology Associates has physicians who will provide this service.
The following Chesapeake Urology physicians are trained to provide this treatment and are available to discuss this option with you:
Richard M. Levin, MD
Benjamin H. Lowentritt, MD
Brian M. Levin, MD