What is HIFU?
HIFU ( High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is a non-invasive treatment that kills prostate tissue in the body with powerful precision focused sound waves. The Sonablate and Ablatherm HIFU devices were FDA approved for prostate tissue ablation in the United States in 2015. Please note these are the only approved HIFU treatment devices in the United States.
HIFU is a revolutionary high tech approach to treating prostate cancer non-invasively. The technology has been under development for 30 years and was first used in Europe to treat prostate cancer in 1995. It has been approved for use in Europe, Asia, Mexico and the Caribbean for many years and has been available in the United States since October 2015. HIFU was incorporated into the EAU (European Urology Association) guidelines for salvage (post radiation failure) treatment of prostate cancer, but most American urologists have little experience with this treatment.
HIFU works by delivering high intensity, focused ultrasound waves into the prostate through a rectal transducer. Advanced 3D ultrasound imaging is used to robotically control the delivery of the focused ultrasound waves into the prostate gland so that the targeted prostate tissue can be destroyed. The highly focused, precise ultrasound beam can avoid neighboring critical structures such as the bladder, rectum, external urinary sphincter and neurovascular bundles (that control erectile function). The HIFU procedure is performed under anesthesia in the outpatient setting. Patients require catheter drainage of the bladder for approximately 1 week, but recovery is rapid since there are no incisions to heal. (HIFU video animation)
Significant technological improvements have been made in HIFU technology over the past several years. These improvements include rectal wall cooling, improved imaging, treatment planning and targeting, and Doppler identification of the neurovascular bundles to facilitate nerve sparing. The current HIFU technology allows the experienced surgeon to confirm prostate tissue destruction in real time as the procedure is being performed. MRI images can now be fused or merged with ultrasound images in the HIFU treatment screen allowing for precise MRI image guided prostate ablation. Dr. Scionti has been heavily involved in these refinements and has pioneered treatment techniques designed to lower the risk of side effects such as scar tissue formation or stricture disease. The Scionti MMM (Triple M) HIFU technique is the culmination of over a decade of HIFU experience in over 1000 patients and allows for MRI Mapping of the tumor onto the HIFU ultrasound image and energy Modulation to assure more effective tumor ablation with less side effects.
Like other ablative treatments, HIFU can be used as a total gland treatment, salvage (post radiation failure) treatment and as a focal treatment. Preliminary studies from Europe and Japan suggest that men with low and moderate risk disease achieve excellent biochemical disease free rates, and excellent negative biopsy rates with low rates of incontinence and good preservation of erectile function.
Dr Scionti is recognized as a world leader in the HIFU arena and is currently treating patients in Sarasota Florida at the Vituro Health Sarasota HIFU Center at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. With over 1500 successful procedures performed, Dr. Scionti has led the way in the training of American Urologists through national training courses and has been a guest lecturer at numerous academic conferences.
In summary: HIFU is a revolutionary non-invasive treatment that kills prostate tissue with focused sound waves. Currently, men with organ confined prostate cancer can elect to have total gland or targeted focal HIFU performed by Dr. Scionti at the Vituro Health Sarasota HIFU Treatment Center. The Scionti MMM ( Triple M ) HIFU technique is only available through Dr. Scionti in Sarasota.
NOTE: The new Medicare C code is a temporary tracking code that provides Medicare reimbursement for the outpatient hospital fess associated with HIFU treatment. Medicare has paid for the hospital fees in all of our Medicare patients treated over the past year. Although most commercial insurance plans such as Blue Cross, United, Aetna, and Cigna do not provide coverage for HIFU treatment, some of our patients have been able to recover a portion of their costs by filing an appeal with their insurance company with the help of the Vituro Health Insurance Reimbursement Assistance Program. Recently, Cigna has authorized coverage for HIFU treatment for men who have a recurrence after radiation therapy. (Salvage HIFU treatment). The VA system has also authorized HIFU treatment on a case by case basis for veterans exposed to Agent Orange.