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 endometriosis. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the brain without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling endometriosis to be treated without surgery.
Focused ultrasound is already being used to treat adenomyosis (growth of endometrial tissue in the uterine wall). When endometrial tissue grows on organs outside of the uterus (endometriosis), focused ultrasound may be considered as an alternative treatment. This is still very early work, but the positive preliminary results are encouraging.
Dr. Gil Dubernaud and his team in France investigating focused ultrasound for treatment of deep infiltrating endometriosis – one of the most common and symptomatic types of endometriosis – which involves the bowel 8-12% of the time. Conventional treatment options for this condition include colon resection or rectal shaving. Dr. Dubernaud’s team is using transrectal focused ultrasound to treat the rectal or sigmoid endometriotic nodules.
The primary option for treatment of endometriosis is surgical excision, although there are some medications which have also been used.
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 treatment of endometriosis.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for endometriosis is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
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Stehouwer BL, Braat MNG, Veersema S. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Guided High Intensity Focused Ultrasound is a Non-Invasive Treatment Modality for Patients with Abdominal Wall Endometriosis. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2018 Mar 30. pii: S1553-4650(18)30175-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2018.03.018.
Dubernard G, Gelet A, Lafon C, et al. Transrectal high-intensity focused ultrasound as focal therapy for posterior deep infiltrating endometriosis. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol. 2018;51(1):145-146. doi:10.1002/uog.17497.
Zhu X, Chen L, Deng X, Xiao S, Ye M, Xue M. A comparison between high-intensity focused ultrasound and surgical treatment for the management of abdominal wall endometriosis. BJOG. 2017 Aug;124 Suppl 3:53-58. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.14737.
Zhang L, Rao F, Setzen R. High intensity focused ultrasound for the treatment of adenomyosis: selection criteria, efficacy, safety and fertility. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2017 Jun;96(6):707-714. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13159.
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