Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with thyroid cancer. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasonic energy precisely and accurately on targets in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling thyroid cancer to be treated without surgery.
A preclinical study looked at using focused ultrasound on papillary thyroid cells that were cultured in growth medium that either included ethanol or it did not. The specimens were treated with a variety of intensities of focused ultrasound, and then the viability of the cell cultures were evaluated. The highest powered focused ultrasound treatment of cells grown in ethanol had the least viability of any of the specimens.
The primary option for treatment of thyroid cancer is surgical removal, which has the issues of nerve injury or other surgical complications, anesthesia and wound healing.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary.
A clinical trial treating papillary thyroid microcarcinoma is being organized at the University of Hong Kong.
Regulatory & Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for thyroid cancer is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Liu Y, Ma Y, Peng X, Wang L, Li H, Cheng W, Zheng X. Cetuximab-conjugated perfluorohexane/gold nanoparticles for low intensity focused ultrasound diagnosis ablation of thyroid cancer treatment. Sci Technol Adv Mater. 2021 Feb 1;21(1):856-866. doi: 10.1080/14686996.2020.1855064.
Namakshenas P, Mojra A. Microstructure-based non-Fourier heat transfer modeling of HIFU treatment for thyroid cancer. Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 2020 Aug 8;197:105698. doi: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2020.105698.
Wang Y, Sui G, Teng D, Wang Q, Qu J, Zhu L, Ran H, Wang Z, Jin C, Wang H. Low intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU) triggered drug release from cetuximab-conjugated phase-changeable nanoparticles for precision theranostics against anaplastic thyroid carcinoma. Biomater Sci. 2018 Nov 13. doi: 10.1039/c8bm00970h.
Lang BHH, Woo Y-C, Chiu KW-H. Significance of hyperechoic marks observed during high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation of benign thyroid nodules. Eur Radiol. January 2018. doi:10.1007/s00330-017-5207-z.
K. Tsumagari, N. Hoang, H. Murad, D. Slakey, D. Khismatullin, E. Kandil. Ablation of Aggressive Thyroid Cancer Cells with High Intensity Focused Ultrasound and Ethanol.
Click here for additional references from PubMed.