How Focused Ultrasound (FUS) works:

FUS is a technology that concentrates intersecting beams of ultrasound energy with extreme precision onto a target deep in the body--much like a magnifying glass focusing multiple beams of light on a single point to cause a burn in a leaf. The focal point of these intersecting beams causes significant energy deposition leading to a rise in temperature which "ablates" the targeted lesion.


Research MRI Image


And the value of coupling FUS with an MRI:

At UVA, we have installed a dedicated MRI that couples with FUS devices to both ablate lesions and control the FUS energy with great precision through sophisticated computational modeling. This coupling technology, called MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS), gives physicians the ability to perform non-invasive surgery to treat benign and malignant tumors.


Exablate Patient


The possibilities of MRgFUS are many:

Though MRgFUS is currently only FDA-approved for the treatment of uterine fibroids and bone metastases, we at UVA have initiated clinical trials for the treatment of essential tremor and tremor dominant Parkinson’s disease. Clinical trials involving the application of MRgFUS to other conditions are expected to begin in the near future. Indeed, MRgFUS is not limited to only treating tumors. It can also temporarily change vascular or cell membrane permeability and release or activate various compounds for targeted drug delivery or gene therapy. The University of Virginia is at the forefront of developing targeted drug and gene delivery strategies that utilize MRgFUS technology.


Focused Ultrasound Equipment

A "disruptive" technology with interdepartmental efforts:

In the parlance of clinical research and development, we call MRgFUS "disruptive" because it provides new therapeutic approaches and may cause major changes in patient management and in several medical disciplines.

The UVA Focused Ultrasound Center is managed collaboratively by a range of departments including Radiation Oncology, Gynecology, Surgery, Breast Surgery, Neurosurgery, Urology, Anesthesiology, Biomedical Engineering, and Radiology. This interdepartmental effort holds much promise in developing MRgFUS as a non-invasive treatment option for the greatest number of conditions and with the highest quality of care.