Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Outside Approval Square

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 back pain, as a common cause is arthritis of the facet joints. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body with minimal damage to surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise destruction of tissue. With regard to the treatment of back pain, the sensory nerves that transmit pain signals are targeted which in turn diminishes the sensation of back pain in the treated patient. 

The primary treatment options for chronic low back pain caused by facet arthritis currently include medication, steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation of sensory nerves and invasive surgery.

For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to traditional treatment with less risk of complications and lower cost.

Clinical Trials Square


  • Focused ultrasound is noninvasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound or injection site infection or delayed healed. 
  • Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
  • Focused ultrasound can be safely repeated, if necessary. 

Clinical Trials

A clinical trial in Taiwan is looking at treating facet arthritis causing low back pain with focused ultrasound. 

A clinical trial in Canada using focused ultrasound to treat facet arthritis causing low back pain has been completed. The patients will to be monitored prior to the publication of the results, which is expected in late 2020. This same technique has expanded into a multi-site trial in Canada. Only Canadian citizens are able to participate in this study.

See a list of back pain clinical trials > 
See a list of laboratory research sites >

Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement

The Insightec magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound system has been approved in Europe and Russia for the treatment of facetogenic back pain.

Notable Papers

Tiegs-Heiden CA, Lehman VT, Gorny KR, Boon AJ, Hesley GK. Improved Treatment Response Following Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Guided Focused Ultrasound for Lumbar Facet Joint Pain. Mayo Clin Proc Innov Qual Outcomes. 2019 Dec 28;4(1):109-113. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocpiqo.2019.10.003. eCollection 2020 Feb.

Scipione R, Anzidei M, Bazzocchi A, Gagliardo C, Catalano C, Napoli A. HIFU for Bone Metastases and other Musculoskeletal Applications. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2018 Oct;35(4):261-267. doi: 10.1055/s-0038-1673363. Epub 2018 Nov 5. Review.

Krug R, Do L, Rieke V, Wilson MW, Saeed M. Evaluation of MRI protocols for the assessment of lumbar facet joints after MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment. J Ther Ultrasound. 2016 Apr 6;4:14. doi: 10.1186/s40349-016-0057-8. eCollection 2016.

Filippiadis DK, Kelekis A. A review of percutaneous techniques for low back pain and neuralgia: current trends in epidural infiltrations, intervertebral disk and facet joint therapies. Br J Radiol. 2016;89(1057):20150357. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20150357. Epub 2015 Oct 14.

Harnof S, Zibly Z, Shay L, Digadkin O, Hanannel A, Inbar Y, Goor-Aryeh I, Caspi I. Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound treatment of facet joint pain: summary of preclinical phase.. J Ther Ultrasound. 2014 Feb 28;2:9. doi: 10.1186/2050-5736-2-9.

Weeks EM, Platt MW, Gedroyc W. MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) to treat facet joint osteoarthritis low back pain-case series of an innovative new technique. Eur Radiol. 2012 Dec;22(12):2822-35. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Click here for additional references from PubMed.

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