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 sacral chordomas. 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 precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling sacral chordomas to be treated without surgery.
Focused ultrasound has been used to treat four patients with sacral chordomas in England with encouraging results. The researchers report tumor volume was reduced over time in three patients for whom follow up scans were available. Tumor necrosis was documented in two out of the three patients.
The primary options for treatment of sacral chordomas include invasive surgery.
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. This is particularly important as even with best efforts, chodomas can see the surgical wound and recur.
A recently completed clinical trial treated patients in the UK for sacral chordomas. We are awaiting publication of the results.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for sacral chordoma is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
The Chordoma Foundation is a nonprofit organization working to improve the lives of those affected by chordoma and lead the search for a cure.
Chetan MR, Lyon PC, Wu F, Phillips R, Cranston D, Gillies MJ, Bojanic S. Role of diffusion-weighted imaging in monitoring treatment response following high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation of recurrent sacral chordoma. Radiol Case Rep. 2019 Aug 1;14(10):1197-1201. doi: 10.1016/j.radcr.2019.07.004. eCollection 2019 Oct.
Gillies MJ, Lyon PC, Wu F, Leslie T, Chung DY, Gleeson F, Cranston D, Bojanic S. High-intensity focused ultrasonic ablation of sacral chordoma is feasible: a series of four cases and details of a national clinical trial. Br J Neurosurg. 2016 Dec 12:1-6.
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