High Intensity Focused Ultrasound

High intensity focused ultrasound, also known as HIFU, offers a targeted, noninvasive treatment for prostate cancer. Using ultrasound energy, or sound waves, HIFU can attack and destroy precise areas of malignant tissue within the prostate. These sound waves pass harmlessly through healthy tissue. When the sound waves reach the exact targeted focal point, they heat up intensely. The temperature increases to up to 90 degrees Celsius on the selected tissue, effectively killing the diseased cells.

Candidates for HIFU

HIFU is the most effective therapy for men who have early stage, localized prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate. As every case is unique, it is recommended that patients discuss their individual diagnosis and medical history with their physician in order to determine whether they are a suitable candidate for HIFU.

Patients who have undergone radiation therapy, brachytherapy or external beam radiation, and have had the cancer return, are often good candidates for HIFU, as long as the cancer has not spread to the bone or other organs. Men who are faced with a local recurrence after receiving a radical prostatectomy may also qualify for HIFU.

Benefits of HIFU

High intensity focused ultrasound destroys cancerous tissue only, leaving healthy tissue unharmed. There are many benefits to HIFU that may include:

  • No exposure to radiation
  • Local anesthesia
  • No hospital stay and little post-procedure recovery
  • Non-invasive

HIFU therapy causes no scarring or blood loss as traditional surgery can. Unlike radiation, it doesn't have a cumulative effect, enabling repetition of HIFU treatment when necessary, without risk of damaging the healthy prostate tissue. HIFU can also be used as a treatment method when other forms of therapy have failed to cure the cancer.

The HIFU Procedure

Many physicians perform high intensity focused ultrasound with the use of the Sonablate 500®. The Sonablate 500®., developed by Focus Surgery, Inc., is a top-of-the-line device used for HIFU procedures. It is highly successful for treating both prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The Sonablate 500® combines high definition imaging with HIFU therapy to treat prostate cancer precisely. The ultrasound imaging provides high resolution 3D images of the entire prostate gland from different angles. Using these images, a physician can create a customized plan to determine exactly where the HIFU needs to be concentrated.

Physicians can treat and monitor the progress of the HIFU treatment in real time with the Sonablate 500®. It integrates multiple focal length transducers in a single probe, allowing for faster treatment. The Sonablate also has important safety features that analyze temperature and distance data to maximize patient safety.

Complications of HIFU

High intensity focused ultrasound has very minimal side effects, however possible complications may include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Rectal burning or bleeding

High intensity focused ultrasound offers a number of advantages over traditional prostate cancer therapies. There is little recovery time associated with HIFU and patients typically can resume their normal activities within a few days of the procedure.

Additional Resources