High Intensity Focused Ultrasound
HIFU is a therapy option for localised
prostate cancer that may offer a balance between eliminating
cancer and maintaining quality of life. It has the potential
to reduce the risk of impotence and incontinence and allows
men to return to their normal lifestyle almost immediately.
does HIFU work?
In order to understand the basic concept of how HIFU works an analogy can be
drawn between HIFU ablating the prostate and sunrays entering a magnifying
glass to burn a leaf. When a magnifying glass is held above a leaf in the correct
position on a sunny day the sunrays intersect below the lens and cause the
leaf to burn at the point of intersection.
If you insert your hand into the path of either one of the sun rays individually,
away from the point of intersection, there is no significant heat felt or harm
caused. Alternatively, if you place your hand at the point of intersection
you will be burned.
The scientific principles at work in this example are the same as those with
HIFU. Instead of light as the energy source, HIFU utilises sound. Instead of
a magnifying glass HIFU uses a transducer. Just as the individual sunray is
harmless to the hand, and individual sound wave is harmless to the healthy
tissue it travels through.