HIFU, short for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, is a state-of-the-art technology acoustic ablation technique that utilizes the power of ultrasound to destroy deep-seated tissue with pinpoint accuracy for treatment of prostate cancer.
Focused sound waves in a targeted area which rapidly increases the temperature in the focal zone causing tissue destruction.
In most cases, HIFU is a 1-4 hour, one-time procedure performed on an out-patient basis under spinal anesthesia. Unlike radiation, HIFU is non-ionizing; this means that HIFU may also be used as a salvage technique if other prostate cancer treatments fail.
In order to understand the basic concept of how HIFU works, an analogy can be drawn between HIFU ablating the prostate and sunrays entering a magnifying glass to burn a leaf. When a magnifying glass is held above a leaf in the correct position on a sunny day the sunrays intersect below the lens and cause the leaf to burn at the point of intersection. If you insert your hand into the path of either one of the sun rays individually, away from the point of intersection, there is no significant heat felt or harm caused. Alternatively, if you place your hand at the point of intersection you will be burned.
The scientific principles at work in this example are the same as those with HIFU. Instead of light as the energy source, HIFU utilizes sound. Instead of a magnifying glass HIFU uses a transducer. Just as the individual sunray is harmless to the hand, and individual sound wave is harmless to the healthy tissue it travels through.
During HIFU, the physician uses continuously updated real-time images of the prostate to map out and execute the entire HIFU treatment plan. These images show treatment progression and permit the physician to customize treatment for maximum safety and effectiveness. The Sonablate® 500 (SB500) is a minimally invasive medical device, developed by Focus Surgery Inc.(Indianapolis, IN) that uses High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) to treat prostate cancer and BPH.
The Sonablate® is the only HIFU device for prostate cancer that does not regularly require a TURP procedure prior to treatment in order to achieve effective results.
The Sonablate® uses a single transducer to obtain real-time images of the prostate during treatment and provide treatment in multiple treatment zones. The Sonablate® software allows the surgeon to customize each treatment zones in order to safely ablate the entire gland.
This image illustrates in the Sector (Transverse) and Linear (Longitudinal) view how the Sonablate® 500 HIFU beam is precisely focused and delivered into the prostate gland. (image courtesy of Takai Hospital Supply Co., Japan)
The technology behind the device originated at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis in the 1970s. It was further developed in leading research centers across the globe.