Pierre Curie and his brother, Jacques Curie, discovered the piezoelectric effect in certain crystals in Paris, France, leading to the evolution of high frequency echo-sounding techniques.
French professor Paul Langevin and Swiss physicist Constantin Chilowsky developed a high-frequency ultrasonic device called a hydrophone, which was used in German U-boat and submarine surveillance.
Paul Langevin discovered that a water tank insonated with high-intensity ultrasound killed fish immediately, and certain observers experienced “a painful sensation on plunging the hand in this region."
John G. Lynn et al. proposed the idea that ultrasound could be intensely focused to produce extreme heat and non-invasively destroy targeted diseased tissue within the body. They were able to produce lesions deep in bovine liver without damaging surrounding tissue.
William Fry, a physicist veteran of naval sonar research, and his brother, Francis Fry, began civilian research at the Bioacoustic Research Laboratory (University of Illinois) and a research team developed a focused ultrasound device that mechanically aligned four focused ultrasound generators to produce a pinpoint lesion without damage to the surrounding tissue.
John G. Lynn and Tracy J. Putcham were able to destroy cerebral tissue in animals using focused ultrasound. They treated 37 animals in all and found well-circumscribed lesions on physical examination of the areas.
Lars Leksell designed a specially adapted frame and ultrasound transducer for the purpose of focused ultrasound lesioning and successfully used it on patients to treat psychiatric disorders. He eventually abandoned the method due to lack of imaging and the need for craniotomies.
The first major symposium on Ultrasound in Biology and Medicine was held at the University of Illinois to examine phenomena of how ultrasonic energy interacted with and acted upon biological materials.
Petter A. Lindstrom studied the effects of focused ultrasound-mediated lesioning as an alternative to a lobotomy procedure in patients with carcinomatosis and cancer-related pain.
William Fry, Francis Fry, and Reginald C. Eggleton founded the Interscience Research Institute in Champaign, Illinois. Its goals were two-fold: to develop and apply high-intensity ultrasound instrumentation to treat neurological disorders; and to develop computer-based, low-intensity ultrasound instrumentation for visualization of the soft tissue.
Russell Meyers and William Fry utilized focused ultrasound to treat numerous human patients suffering from various brain pathologies, in particular Parkinson’s disease.
Coleman and Lizzie developed the Sonocare CST-100 Therapeutic Ultrasound System which was designed to treat glaucoma. It was the first focused ultrasound system to earn FDA approval. However, it was ultimately outdated by laser surgery.
K. Hynynen et al. proposed the use of noninvasive focused ultrasound using magnetic resonance imaging to guide and monitor tissue damage. The term Magnetic Resonance Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) was first coined.
K. Hynynen and F. Jolesz demonstrated the feasibility of using a large phased array applicator for through skull focusing and ablation and proposed the benefits of using cavitation for through skull treatments.
The International Society for Therapeutic Ultrasound (ISTU) was formed to increase and diffuse knowledge of therapeutic ultrasound to the scientific and medical community.
K. Hynynen et al. determined that focused ultrasound, combined with microbubbles, can cause localized and reversible disruption of the blood brain barrier (BBB), a historically major obstacle in the treatment of brain diseases.
G. Clement and K. Hynynen demonstrated noninvasive focusing through human skull using a phased array and CT based planning algorithm.
In 2006, M. Kinoshita et al. demonstrated antibody delivery through the BBB using MRgFUS.
C. Tempany et al. performed the first clinical trial of uterine fibroids using INSIGHTEC'S Exablate system and found the procedure feasible and safe.
F. Wu et al. performed the first focused ultrasound clinical trial for breast cancer, concluding it could be effective, safe, and feasible in the extracorporeal treatment of localized disease.
H. Zheng et al. found focused ultrasound treatment may evoke a strong immune response to combat residual tumor cells and suppress remote metastasis in cancer patients.
W. Elias et al. successfully treated the first 15 patients with essential tremor at the University of Virginia in a pilot trial. All patients noted a significant decrease in their tremors.
M. Aryal, Y. Zhang et al. demonstrated that focused ultrasound can enhance delivery of anti-cancer drugs (Doxirubicin) and have a therapeutic effect on gliomas in a rat model.
HF. Gao et al. performed the first clinical trial using focused ultrasound to treat local advanced pancreatic cancer.
The first pediatric osteoid osteoma (bone tumor) was treated in a clinical trial conducted by The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. The Foundation funded the trial.
Two focused ultrasound devices - EDAP’s Ablatherm Robotic HIFU and SonaCare Medical’s Sonablate 450 - earned FDA approval to ablate prostate tissue. This technique could be used to treat conditions like prostate cancer and BPH.
In 2016, Profound Medical's TULSA-PRO device earned CE approval to ablate prostate tissue.
John Grisham wrote “The Tumor,” a book about the potential for focused ultrasound, to raise awareness of the technology. In a year, more than 800,000 copies were distributed.
Insightec's Exablate Neuro device is approved to treat essential tremor in the US and Canada. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services subsequently assigned the procedure a payment level, the first step toward Medicare reimbursement.
The Focused Ultrasound Foundation partnered with the Cancer Research Institute to futher focused ultrasound and immunotherapy combination approaches to treat cancer. The pair funded their first joint project in 2018.
The first clinical trial combining focused ultrasound with an immunotherapy drug began for patients with metastatic breast cancer at the University of Virginia.
A multisite clinical trial to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease began at Weill Cornell in New York.
University of Maryland researchers began the first US trial to open the blood-brain barrier in brain tumor patients.