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 thyroid nodules. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets deep in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound produces precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) enabling thyroid nodules to be treated without surgery.
The primary options for treatment of thyroid nodules include medication and invasive surgery.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications and lower cost.
- Focused ultrasound is noninvasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound healing or infection.
- Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue.
- It can be repeated, if necessary.
A clinical trial in Hong Kong has been completed. It assessed the use of repeated focused ultrasound treatment for nodules that do not shrink with the first treatment. Publication is expected soon.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
The Echopulse system manufactured by Theraclion is approved in Europe, Russia and Korea for treating thyroid nodules. Some European insurance companies are paying for focused ultrasound treatment of thyroid nodules.
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Lang BHH, Woo YC, Chiu KW. Evaluation of pain during high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation of benign thyroid nodules. Eur Radiol. 2018 Jun;28(6):2620-2627. doi: 10.1007/s00330-017-5200-6. Epub 2018 Jan 12.
Lang BHH, Woo YC, Chiu KW. Significance of hyperechoic marks observed during high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation of benign thyroid nodules. Eur Radiol. 2018 Jun;28(6):2675-2681. doi: 10.1007/s00330-017-5207-z. Epub 2018 Jan 8.
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