Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with kidney tumors. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain without damaging surrounding normal tissue.
How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated.
One mechanism is the precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue), which can be done to completely destroy the target or to partially treat it. Partial treatment is believed to stimulate the patient’s immune response, which may have a broader impact.
Another mechanism is the use of mechanical (non-thermal) histotripsy to destroy the tumor.
A third mechanism is to use focused ultrasound to cause hyperthermia which enables the local release and absorption of a therapeutic that is contained in the blood stream.
The primary options for treatment of kidney tumors depend on the type of the tumor, but typical approaches are partial or complete surgical removal. Radiation, arterial embolization or chemotherapy may also be considered.
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. Focused ultrasound can also enhance the chemotherapy dose for the target, with less impact to the rest of the patient.
A clinical trial using histotripsy for the treatment of kidney tumors has begun.
There is a clinical trial is using thermally sensitive doxorubicin to treat recurrent or refractory tumors.
A clinical trial is recruiting patients with solid tumors with metastatic lesions, including kidney cancer, at the University of Virginia.
For a full list of kidney tumor clinical trials, please see here.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
A focused ultrasound system has been approved in China and in Europe for treatment of kidney cancer.
To the best of our knowledge, the use of focused ultrasound to treat kidney cancer is not yet reimbursed by medical insurance.
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Suomi V, Jaros J, Treeby B, Cleveland R. Full Modelling of High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound and Thermal Heating in the Kidney using Realistic Patient Models. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2017 Jul 28. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2017.2732684.
Click here for additional references from PubMed.