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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. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling thyroid cancer to be treated without surgery.

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.

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. Click here to read more.

Focused ultrasound treatment advantages:

  • Focused ultrasound is non-invasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound healing or infection.
  • Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue.
  • It can be repeated, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

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.

Notable Papers

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.

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