TU-A-210-01: HIFU Physics and Delivery



High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has developed rapidly in recent years and is used frequently for clinical treatments in Asia and Europe with increasing clinical use and clinical trial activity in the US, making it an important medical technology with which the medical physics community must become familiar. Akin to medical devices that deliver treatments using ionizing radiation, HIFU relies on emitter geometry to non-invasively form a tight focus that can be used to affect diseased tissue while leaving healthy tissue intact. HIFU is unique in that it does not involve the use of ionizing radiation, it causes thermal necrosis in 100% of the treated tissue volume, and it has an immediate treatment effect. However, because it is an application of ultrasound energy, HIFU interacts strongly with tissue interfaces, which makes treatment planning challenging. In order to appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of HIFU as a thermal therapy, it is important to understand the underlying physics of ultrasound tissue interactions.

The first lecture in the session will provide an overview of the physics of ultrasound wave propagation; the mechanism for the accumulation of heat in soft-tissue; image-guidance modalities including temperature monitoring; current clinical applications and commercial devices; active clinical trials; alternate mechanisms of action (future of FUS).

The second part of the session will compare HIFU to existing ionization radiation techniques. The difficulties in defining a clear concept of absorbed dose for HIFU will be discussed. Some of the technical challenges that HIFU faces will be described, with an emphasis on how the experience of radiation oncology physicists could benefit the field.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Describe the basic physics and biology of HIFU, including treatment delivery and image guidance techniques.
  • 2.Summarize existing and emerging clinical applications and manufacturers for HIFU.
  • 3.Understand that thermal ablation with HIFU is likely the first of several applications of the technology
  • 4.Learn about some similarities and differences between HIFU and ionizing radiation in terms of physics and biological effects.
  • 5.Learn about some of the technical challenges HIFU faces that might benefit from the experience of radiation oncology physicists including treatment planning improvements, quality assurance procedures, and treatment risk analysis.

David Schlesinger receives research support from Elekta Instruments, AB.

Matt Eames is an employee of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation which supports research and clinical trials. Dr. Eames conducts research which is supported by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation.