Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Clinical Trials SquareFocused 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 tumors of the head and neck. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body 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 production of precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) with the goal of either completely or partially destroying the tumor tissue. Partial treatment is believed to stimulate the patient’s immune response, which may have a broader impact. Another mechanism of action is to pre-treat the tumor with pulsed focused ultrasound which may enable improved therapeutic absorption.

The primary option for treatment of tumors of the head and neck is invasive surgery, although radiation, chemotherapy or other pharmaceuticals may also be used.

For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – like surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue, and it could also enhance the chemotherapy dose for the target, with less impact to the rest of the patient. It can also be repeated, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial is recruiting patients with solid tumors with metastatic lesions, including esophagael cancer, at the University of Virginia.

A clinical trial for patients who have cancer with metastases to the lymph nodes in the head and neck is underway at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, in Toronto, Canada. This study is only open to Canadian residents. 

clinical trial is recruiting patients who have severe, opioid-resistant pain from head and neck cancer at the University of Virginia.

For a full list of head and neck tumor clinical trials, please see here.

See here for a list of treatment sites
See here for a list of clinical trials sites
See here for a list of laboratory research sites

Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement

Focused ultrasound treatment for head and neck tumors is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.

Notable Papers

Lee J, Farha G, Poon I, Karam I, Higgins K, Pichardo S, Hynynen K, Enepekides D. Magnetic resonance-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound combined with radiotherapy for palliation of head and neck cancer-a pilot study. J Ther Ultrasound. 2016 Apr 2;4:12. doi: 10.1186/s40349-016-0055-x.

Pichardo S, Köhler M, Lee J, Hynnyen K. In vivo optimisation study for multi-baseline MR-based thermometry in the context of hyperthermia using MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound for head and neck applications. Int J Hyperthermia. 2014 Dec;30(8):579-92. doi: 10.3109/02656736.2014.981299.

Wu CY, Chan PC, Chou LS, Chang CW, Yang FY, Liu RS, Chiou SH, Chen YW, Yen SH, Wang HE. Pulsed-focused ultrasound enhances boron drug accumulation in a human head and neckcancer xenograft-bearing mouse model. Mol Imaging Biol. 2014 Feb;16(1):95-101. doi: 10.1007/s11307-013-0675-2.

Click here for additional references from PubMed.

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