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 relapsed or persistent Graves’ disease. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets in the thyroid gland without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling patients with Graves’ disease to be treated without surgery.
Graves’ disease is typically treated with anti-thyroid hormonal therapy and beta blockers, but the treatment for relapsed or persistent Graves’ disease typically involves taking radioactive iodine or having surgery.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound may provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications and lower cost.
- Focused ultrasound does not use any radioactive materials.
- Focused ultrasound is non-invasive, which minimizes the risk to adjacent (normal) tissues.
- Focused ultrasound may be done without incurring the risk of general anesthesia.
A current clinical trial in Hong Kong is using focused ultrasound to treat recurrent Graves’ Disease.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
To our knowledge, the treatment for Graves’ disease is not covered by medical insurance companies.
Lang BH, Woo YC, Chiu KW. Two-year outcomes of single-session high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) treatment in persistent or relapsed Graves' disease. Eur Radiol. 2019 Jun 17. doi: 10.1007/s00330-019-06303-8.
Lang BH, Woo YC, Wong IY, Chiu KW. Single-Session High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Treatment for Persistent or Relapsed GravesDisease: Preliminary Experience in a Prospective Study. Radiology. 2017 Jul 20:162776. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017162776.
Glinoer D, de Nayer P, Bex M; Belgian Collaborative Study Group on Graves' Disease. Effects of l-thyroxine administration, TSH-receptor antibodies and smoking on the risk of recurrence in Graves' hyperthyroidism treated with antithyroid drugs: a double-blind prospective randomized study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2001 May;144(5):475-83.