Focused ultrasound (FUS) is a non-invasive technique in which a focused beam of ultrasound targets a lesion. The skull is not opened and there is no radiation involved.
Focused ultrasound has several mechanisms of action. Like laser surgery, it can work through ablation by heating and destroying tissue. It can also be used in combination with a substance that becomes caustic when it’s exposed to focused ultrasound. This is called sonodynamic therapy and requires a minimal increase in temperature. FUS is also being researched as a way to deliver medications directly to the brain by increasing vascular permeability – without FUS, the blood-brain barrier would prevent this.
As of this writing, focused ultrasound has been used to treat approximately 2000 patients with brain disorders, primarily for brain tumors and tremors. It is not yet in human trials for cavernous angioma, but it is under investigation in mouse models at the University of Virginia, funded by the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. This is a very exciting technology that may hold a great deal of promise for our patients.
Angioma Alliance is working closely with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and UVA to advance their work. More information about the technology can be found on the Focused Ultrasound Foundation website.