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Magn Reson Imaging Clin N Am. 2005 Aug;13(3):545-60.

MR imaging-controlled focused ultrasound ablation: a noninvasive image-guided surgery.

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Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The history of MR-guided FUS demonstrates the need for merging advanced therapy technology with advanced imaging. Without the ability of MR imaging to localize the tumor margins and without the temperature-sensitive imaging that provides the closed-loop control of energy deposition, this method is inadequate for most clinical applications. Given these limitations,high-intensity focused ultrasound initially appeared to have a narrow application area and was not able to compete with other surgical or ablation methods. Today, MR imaging-guided FUS has become a safe and effective means of performing probe-delivered thermal ablations and minimally invasive surgery. Moreover, it has the potential to replace treatments that use ionizing radiation such as radiosurgery and brachytherapy. Although the cost of integrating"big ticket" MR imaging systems with complex and expensive phased arrays is high, this expenditure will largely be offset by eliminating hospitalization and anesthesia and by reducing complications. In effect, an investment in this emerging technology will ultimately redound to the benefit of the health care delivery system and, most important, to the patient. The FUS system provides a safe, repeatable treatment approach for benign tumors (eg, uterine fibroid and breast fibroadenoma) that do not require an aggressive approach. MR-guided FUS can also be used for debulking cancerous tissue. It has already been tested as a breast cancer treatment; its application for other malignancies in the brain, liver, and prostate is under development. MR-guided FUS offers an attractive alternative to conventional surgery because it incorporates intraoperative MR imaging, which provides far more precise target definition than is possible with the surgeon's direct visualization of the lesion. MR-guided FUS is undeniably the most promising interventional MR imaging method in the field of image-guided therapy today. It is applicable not only in the thermal coagulative treatment of tumors but also in several other medical situations for which invasive surgery or radiation may not be treatment options. The use of FUS for treating vascular malformation or functional disorders of the brain is also exciting. It is uniquely applicable for image-guided therapy using targeted drug delivery methods and gene therapy. Further advances in this technology will no doubt improve energy deposition and reduce treatment times. In the near future, FUS will offer a viable alternative to conventional surgery and radiation therapy; in the longer-term, it may also enable a host of targeted treatment methods aimed at eradicating or arresting heretofore intractable diseases such as certain brain malignancies and forms of epilepsy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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