Normally, surgery has been the only cure for many solid tumors. Technological advances have catalyzed a shift from open surgery towards less invasive techniques. Laparoscopic surgery and minimally invasive techniques continue to evolve, but for decades high-intensity focused ultrasound has promised to deliver the ultimate objective — truly non-invasive tumor ablation. Only now, however, with recent improvements in imaging, has this objective finally emerged as a real clinical possibility.
HIFU is only useful to treat a single tumor or part of a large tumor. It can’t be used to treat tumors that are more widespread. This means that HIFU is not suitable for people with cancer that has spread to more than one place in their body.
HIFU doesn’t pass through either solid bone or air. This means that it is not suitable to treat every type of cancer.
In HIFU therapy, ultrasound beams are focused on diseased tissue, and due to the significant energy deposition at the focus, temperature within the tissue can rise to levels from 65° to 85°C, destroying the diseased tissue by coagulation necrosis. Higher temperature levels are typically avoided to prevent boiling of liquids inside the tissue. Each sonication of the beams theoretically treats a precisely defined portion of the targeted tissue, although in practice cold spots (caused by, among other things, blood perfusion in the tissue), beam distortion, and beam mis-registration are impediments to finely controlled treatments. The entire therapeutic target is treated by moving the applicator on its robotic arm in order to juxtapose multiple shots, according to a protocol designed by the physician. This technology can achieve precise ablation of diseased tissue, therefore is sometimes called HIFU surgery. Because it destroys the diseased tissue non-invasively, it is also known as “Non-invasive HIFU surgery”. Anesthesia is not required, but is generally recommended. The treatment can be combined with radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
HIFU has been applied in Europe and USA mainly. So, HIFU make us avoid invasive surgical procedures and we hope that scientists work on ways to make HIFU treat all Tumors.
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