The Sonablate is a non-invasive, medical device that uses focused sound waves to rapidly heat and destroy tissue in the prostate. Physicians throughout the world use the Sonablate to treat prostate cancer without having to make a single incision. Ultrasound energy is focused from a transducer within a probe that is placed in the patient’s rectum during an outpatient procedure that typically last 1-4 hours depending on the size of the prostate.
Essentially a doctor can eliminate as much tissue in the prostate as he/she wants to without surgery or radiation. The Sonablate acts as an acoustic scalpel, which means that there is a much quicker recovery time for HIFU prostate cancer patients and lower risk of side effects.
All this may sound a little bit like something out a sci-fi novel, but the truth is, the Sonablate simply takes a clean energy source – sound waves – and harnesses their power by focusing them to a specific point to heat it and make the tissue die.
The physician trades in his scalpel for a computer screen and state-of-the art software, which guides him to where the focused energy should be delivered.
So how does the doctor REALLY know where to send this energy capable of destroying prostatic tissue?
Most urologists are familiar with reading prostatic ultrasound images and can easily identify the prostate and surrounding structures once the Sonablate captures live images before HIFU treatment planning begins.
However, this is where some of the most impressive technology comes into play – technology that is unique to the Sonablate HIFU device. The Sonablate takes imaging capability technology one step further and creates a road map for HIFU physicians so they not only know where the prostate is, but also exactly where the cancer within the prostate is by fusing MRI images directly into the Sonablate software.
Let’s back up for one minute to briefly talk about the benefits of prostate MRI. According to an article published in the British Journal of Urology, prostate MRI is currently the best diagnostic imaging method for detecting prostate cancer. You can read more about prostate MRI for ultrasound-guided biopsies for prostate cancer here.
These MRI images identify the location of the cancerous tumors within the prostate and guide treatment. In other words, it shows the doctor where to target with HIFU most aggressively to ensure that all the cancer is destroyed. Interested in the specifics of how it all works? Read about the software and how physician use it as a road map for HIFU here.
Ultimately, this allows urologists to use HIFU to pursue a “male lumpectomy” approach to HIFU, also known as Focal HIFU, and only treat the cancerous part of the prostate, leaving the rest of the prostate intact.
Patients are drawn to Focal HIFU as an option because it greatly reduces overall treatment time and recovery time after HIFU treatment.
By being able to merge together MRI images into live transrectal ultrasound imaging, Sonablate HIFU physicians can ensure that their patients are getting the most accurate HIFU treatment available.
Learn about other features of the Sonablate in the Sonablate HIFU Feature in Focus Series here.