Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with disc degeneration. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling the nerves causing pain from disc degeneration to be diminished without surgery. There may be other causes for disc degeneration, as it is often a combination of factors that results in various symptoms. While there has been preliminary investigation of focused ultrasound to treat the aberrant discs, more recent work has been on treating the arthritis of the facet joint. See “Back Pain” for added discussion on this topic.
The primary options for treatment of disc degeneration include medication and invasive surgery.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications and lower cost.
- Focused ultrasound is noninvasive, 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.
At the present time, there are no clinical trials recruiting patients for focused ultrasound treatments of disc degeneration.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for disc degeneration is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Shemer A1, Brawer S, Amichi B, Azhari H. Noninvasive lipoma size reduction using high-intensity focused ultrasound. Dermatol Surg. 2013 Oct;39(10):1446-51. doi: 10.1111/dsu.12269. Epub 2013 Jul 18.
Singal, A., Janiga, J., Bossenbroek, N. and Lim, H. (2007), Dercum's disease (adiposis dolorosa): a report of improvement with infliximab and methotrexate. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 21: 717. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.02021
Click here for additional references from PubMed.