High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is rapidly gaining clinical acceptance as a technique capable of providing non-invasive heating and ablation for a wide range of applications. Usually requiring only a single session, treatments are often conducted as day case procedures, with the patient either fully conscious, lightly sedated or under light general anesthesia.
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HIFU scores over other thermal ablation techniques because of the lack of necessity for the transcutaneous insertion of probes into the target tissue. Sources placed either outside the body (for treatment of tumors or abnormalities of the liver, kidney, breast, uterus, pancreas brain and bone), or in the rectum (for treatment of the prostate), provide rapid heating of a target tissue volume, the highly focused nature of the field leaving tissue in the ultrasound propagation path relatively unaffected. Numerous extra-corporeal, transrectal and interstitial devices have been designed to optimize application-specific treatment delivery for the wide-ranging areas of application that are now being explored with HIFU. Their principle of operation is described here, and an overview of their design principles is given.
Advances in experimental medicine and biology. 2016 [Epub]
Gail Ter Haar
Joint Department of Physics, The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, London, UK.