About HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound)


High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), is a precise and targeted non-invasive therapy for localized prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. This groundbreaking technology uses ultrasound energy, or sound waves, to heat and destroy specifically targeted areas of tissue. During a HIFU procedure, sound waves pass through healthy tissue without causing damage, but, at the focal point of the sound waves, the tissue temperature rises to 90 degrees Celsius, destroying the targeted, diseased tissue. Picture a magnifying glass focusing the rays of the sun to burn a leaf and you’ll get a good idea of the principle behind HIFU and how it uses accuracy to specifically destroy prostate cancer cells.

Sonablate® HIFU

The Sonablate® 500 is a non-invasive medical device, developed by Focus Surgery, Inc., that uses HIFU technology to treat prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The Sonablate® delivers precise and controlled results by obtaining real-time images of the prostate and surrounding areas, allowing the doctor to plan exactly where the HIFU will be delivered. In addition, Sonablate® software allows the surgeon to customize six different zones in order to safely ablate the entire gland. The Sonablate® is the only truly non-invasive prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia therapy; HIFU does not require a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), an invasive surgical procedure, or dangerous radiation and chemotherapy to achieve effective results.

Using HIFU technology to treat prostate cancer has distinct therapeutic advantages over traditional therapies. The benefits of HIFU include the following:

  • HIFU takes only one to four hours to perform (depending on prostate size).
  • HIFU is performed as an outpatient procedure under a spinal (epidural) anesthesia and does not require general anesthesia or a an overnight hospital stay.
  • Recovery time is minimal. Patients are usually up and walking around within hours after the procedure and may return to a normal lifestyle within a couple of days.
  • HIFU is non-ionizing, unlike radiation, so it can be repeated, if necessary, without damaging healthy tissue. This means that HIFU can be used as a salvage technique if other prostate cancer treatments fail.
  • HIFU only destroys cancerous tissue and does not damage the surrounding seminal vesicle or tissues, avoiding the many unpleasant risks and side effects associated with radical prostatectomies.
    • This means that HIFU significantly decreases the risk of impotence, from 80% to 2%, and incontinence, from 20% to .4%, when compared to other prostate cancer treatments such as surgical removal of the organ or radiation.
  • A study on HIFU showed a 95.4% decrease in PSA levels with 80% of patients remaining cancer-free for up to 10 years.
  • HIFU leaves open the option to pursue other treatment options if necessary.

Who is a Candidate for HIFU?

HIFU is most effective for men who have a primary diagnosis of early stage, localized prostate cancer that has not spread or metastasized outside the prostate. HIFU has also proven to be an effective treatment for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, it is recommended that you discuss your individual medical records and history with a physician in order to confirm whether or not you are a candidate for HIFU.

Additionally, many patients who have had radiation therapy, brachytherapy or external beam radiation and experience a rise in PSA have discovered that their cancer is back. These patients may be candidates for HIFU as well, as long as the cancer has not spread to the bone or other organs.

Additionally, patients who have a local recurrence after receiving a radical prostatectomy may qualify for HIFU. HIFU is a non-invasive targeted treatment for prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia that is a viable treatment option for many men struggling with these conditions.

International HIFU Centers is home to Dr. George Suarez, who pioneered the use of HIFU technology for the treatment of prostate cancer. Dr. Suarez has performed more HIFU procedures than any other doctor in the world. He designed and developed the very first HIFU system and performed the first HIFU treatment ever done in North America. HIFU’s advantages make it a compelling choice for anyone seeking care for early stage localized prostate cancer. Make an appointment today to find out how this groundbreaking treatment can help you in your search for a cure.