Medical Policy: 02.01.53
Original Effective Date: March 2014
Reviewed: January 2021
Revised: January 2020
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This Medical Policy document describes the status of medical technology at the time the document was developed. Since that time, new technology may have emerged or new medical literature may have been published. This Medical Policy will be reviewed regularly and be updated as scientific and medical literature becomes available.
This medical policy is addressing high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). For magnetic resonance (MR) guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS), see medical policy 04.01.09 MRI Guided High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) Ablation.
High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a minimally-invasive technique that is currently under clinical study for treatment of cancers and other conditions, including but not limited to prostate cancer, renal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, central nervous system cancers (gliomas), soft tissue sarcomas, hepatocellular carcinoma, thyroid nodules, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), breast fibroadenoma and vulvar dystrophy (non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva). Currently, the primary area of study is for use of HIFU in the treatment of prostate cancer.
High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) focuses high-energy ultrasound waves on a single location, which increases the local tissue temperature to over 80 degrees Celcius. This causes a discrete locus of coagulative necrosis of approximately 3x3x10 mm. The surgeon uses a transrectal probe to plan, perform, and monitor treatment in a real-time sequence to ablate the entire gland or small discrete lesions. HIFU can be repeated if necessary. This procedure is typically carried out in an outpatient setting and is performed under a spinal or general anesthesia. A proposed benefit to this method is less adjacent tissue damage.
The purpose of focal therapy using high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is to provide a treatment option that is an alternative to or an improvement on existing therapies.
The relevant population of interest are men with primary localized prostate cancer.
The therapy being considered is focal therapy using high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)
The following therapies and practices are currently being used to make decisions about management men with localized prostate cancer, surgery (radical prostatectomy), external beam radiation, and active surveillance.
The general outcomes of interest are overall survival (OS), tumor progression and recurrence, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
Methods to manage localized prostate cancer include watchful waiting and active surveillance. Treatment options for localized prostate cancer include radical prostatectomy, radiotherapy (EBRT or brachytherapy) and whole gland cryotherapy. High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has been proposed as a method for treating localized prostate cancer. For treatment of the prostate the physician uses a transrectal probe to plan, perform and monitor treatment in real time sequence to ablate the entire gland or small discrete lesions. A cooling balloon surrounding the probe protects the rectal mucosa from the high temperature. Reported post procedure complications include incontinence, bladder neck/urethral stricture and rectourethral fistulae.
In 2016, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) issued a clinician research summary regarding therapies of clinically localized prostate cancer which concluded the evidence is insufficient to permit conclusions about the comparative effectiveness or adverse effects of all other treatments including brachytherapy, cryotherapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy, proton beam radiation therapy, stereotactic body radiation therapy and high intensity focused ultrasound compared in this review. This summary concluded that evidence from two large studies (the SPCG-4 study and PIVOT) showed that metastases can be reduced with radical prostatectomy versus watchful waiting. Evidence related to the comparative effectiveness of radical prostatectomy and watchful waiting for mortality outcomes was rated as insufficient, largely because of the lack of replication in the two large trials. Evidence for other therapies for clinically localized prostate cancer assessed in this updated systemic review is too limited to determine their comparative effectiveness and adverse effects. Evidence is insufficient to determine which subgroups of patients might benefit most from these therapies based on patient disease characteristics. Clear guidance regarding the appropriate patient population for radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, watchful waiting, active surveillance, or one of the other options is difficult to establish. Physicians might take into consideration age, general health status, stage of tumor, PSA level. Gleason score, logistical factors (timing of surgery versus radiation therapy), use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) as a component of the treatment strategy, patient preferences, nuances in patient recovery and quality of life, and other factors in identifying the most appropriate treatment options. Guidelines from NCCN and the American Urological Association may be informative in this regard.
In 2017, Albisinni et. al. although still experimental, focal treatment is being increasingly implemented in the management of prostate cancer (PCa). Aim of this study was to compare functional and oncologic outcomes of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) hemiablation of the prostate to robot assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (RALP) in the management of unilateral PCa. Fifty-five men with unilateral, clinically localized PCa underwent HIFU hemiablation of the affected prostatic lobe between 2007 and 2015. All patients were found to have unilateral disease on the basis on full concordance between multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MRI-guided biopsies. These patients were matched 1:1 with patients who underwent RALP for PCa in which pT2a-b disease (unilateral) was found on final pathologic analysis. Matching criteria were Gleason score, prostate specific antigen (PSA), and cT stage. Treatment failure was defined as the need for salvage external beam radiotherapy or systemic androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) due to disease progression. Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank tests were constructed to assess differences in salvage treatment free survival across surgical techniques. Matching was effective with no significant differences across the two groups, although men treated with HIFU were older (p < 0.001). Median follow-up was 36 months (interquartile range 16-56). HIFU was associated to better and faster recovery of continence, with most men (82%) showing no signs of urinary incontinence even right after surgery. Moreover, the risk of de novo erectile dysfunction was significantly lower after HIFU. No significant difference was found in the need for salvage external beam radiation therapy or ADT across the two surgical approaches: 7/55 men underwent salvage therapy in the HIFU vs 6/55 in the RALP group (p = 0.76). Nonetheless, seven more patients in the HIFU arm required a complementary treatment on the contralateral lobe during follow-up, after developing a contralateral PCa. No patient died of PCa on follow-up, while six men died of other causes (five HIFU vs one RALP, p = 0.11). The authors concluded the following, in this matched pair analysis, HIFU hemiablation was comparable to RALP in controlling localized unilateral PCa, with no significant differences in the need for salvage therapies. HIFU was also associated to significantly better functional outcomes. Accurate patient selection remains vital, and larger prospective trials are needed to confirm our findings.
In 2018 Guillaumier et.al. reported on 5-year prostate cancer control following focal high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy to treat individual areas of cancer within the prostate. This was a prospective study of 625 consecutive patients with nonmetastatic clinically significant PCa undergoing focal HIFU therapy (Sonablate) in secondary care centers between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2015. A minimum of 6-mo follow-up was available for 599 patients. Intermediate- or high-risk PCa was found in 505 patients (84%). Disease was localized using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) combined with targeted and systematic biopsies, or transperineal mapping biopsies. Areas of significant disease were treated. Follow-up included prostate-specific antigen (PSA) measurement, mpMRI, and biopsies. The primary endpoint, failure-free survival (FFS), was defined as freedom from radical or systemic therapy, metastases, and cancer-specific mortality. The median follow-up was 56 mo (interquartile range [IQR] 35-70). The median age was 65 yr (IQR 61-71) and median preoperative PSA was 7.2 ng/ml (IQR 5.2-10.0). FFS was 99% (95% confidence interval [CI] 98-100%) at 1 yr, 92% (95% CI 90-95%) at 3 yr, and 88% (95% 85-91%) at 5 yr. For the whole patient cohort, metastasis-free, cancer-specific, and overall survival at 5 yr was 98% (95% CI 97-99%), 100%, and 99% (95% CI 97-100%), respectively. Among patients who returned validated questionnaires, 241/247 (98%) achieved complete pad-free urinary continence and none required more than 1 pad/d. Limitations include the lack of long-term follow-up. The authors concluded, focal therapy for select patients with clinically significant nonmetastatic prostate cancer is effective in the medium term and has low probability of side effect.
In 2020, He et. al. performed a systematic review and meta-analysis on oncological and functional outcomes of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) as the primary treatment for localized prostate cancer (PCa). Twenty-seven articles were included for analysis with a total of 7393 patients. Eighteen studies investigated the whole-gland HIFU, and the duration of follow-up ranged from 2 to 168 months. After whole-gland HIFU, the mean prostate-specific antigen (PSA) nadir was found to be 0.4 to 1.95 ng/mL and the mean time to PSA nadir was 2.4 to 5.4 months. The rate of positive biopsy after HIFU was 4.5% to 91.1%. Meta-analysis revealed the incidences of urinary incontinence, impotence, urinary obstruction, retention, and infection was 10%, 44%, 15%, 11%, 7%, respectively. Nine studies investigated partial-gland HIFU, and the duration of follow-up was 1 to 131 months. After partial-gland HIFU, the mean PSA nadir was 1.9 to 2.7 ng/mL and the mean time to PSA nadir 5.7 to 7.3 months. The rate of positive biopsy after HIFU in the treatment area was 14% to 37.5%. Meta-analysis revealed the incidences of urinary incontinence, impotence, urinary obstruction, retention, and infection was 2%, 21%, 2%, 9%, 11%, respectively. The authors concluded HIFU can be considered to be superior to prostatectomy in terms of urinary and sexual outcomes. The partial-gland HIFU was safer than whole-gland HIFU, and they had similar oncological outcomes. To date, there have been no prospective randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the outcomes of radical prostatectomy, radiation therapy, and HIFU. Furthermore, among the studies on partial-gland HIFU ablation, few have compared partial-gland treatment to whole-gland ablation. Those that do include such comparison are difficult to interpret given the absence of randomization. Therefore, more RCTs are needed investigating the benefits of HIFU for the treatment of PCa.
In 2020, Mantica et. al. conducted a systematic review of minimally invasive strategies for the treatment of prostate cancer recurrence after radiation therapy. Overall, 545 studies were identified. After duplicate exclusion, initial screening, and eligibility evaluation, a total of 80 studies were included in the qualitative analysis, corresponding to a cohort of 6681 patients. The median age at initial diagnosis ranged from 59 to 75.5. Pre-treatment PSA ranged from 6.2 to 27.4 ng/mL. All patients underwent primary radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer. Cryotherapy, Brachytherapy, EBRT, HIFU were the minimally invasive options mostly used as salvage therapy. They showed to be promising approaches for recurrent prostate cancer (PCa) control, with acceptable toxicities. The authors concluded minimally invasive therapeutic options offer promising results in terms of biochemical control in the local recurrence setting. Unfortunately, the absence of high quality and comparative studies makes it difficult to establish which method is the best in terms of oncological and safety outcomes.
Based on review of the peer reviewed medical literature for high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and the treatment of localized prostate cancer the literature consists for non-randomized studies, systemic reviews and case series. HIFU may provide quality of life (QOL) advantages for patients in comparison to surgery and radiotherapy, however, there is a lack of consensus on objective response criteria, very limited long-term oncologic data, and no comparative effectiveness data versus traditional treatments available for localized prostate cancer. The long-term efficacy, safety and long-term health outcomes of HIFU for the treatment of localized prostate cancer has not been established in controlled clinical trials. Well-designed prospective comparative studies are needed to evaluate risk/benefit of HIFU for the treatment of localized prostate cancer. The American Urological Association (AUA), American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) issued a guideline in 2017 on clinically localized prostate cancer which states “the Panel recommends if HIFU is offered as an alternative treatment modality for localized prostate cancer, it should be done within the context of a clinical trial and clinicians should inform patients considering focal therapy or HIFU that these treatment options lack robust evidence of efficacy”. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary malignancy of the liver. The only potentially curative treatments are surgical resection and liver transplantation. The majority of patients with primary or metastatic liver cancers are not suitable candidates for surgical resection at the time of diagnosis. In addition, chemotherapy and radiotherapy rarely produce a complete or sustained response in patients with advanced disease. High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is under investigation for the ablation of unresectable HCC.
Based on review of the peer reviewed medical literature HIFU for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) the literature includes nonrandomized controlled trials, retrospective cohort study and case series studies with small patient populations. The overall quality of evidence is low due to the lack of randomized controlled trials, and of studies comparing HIFU to other standard treatment modalities. Other limitations include differences between studies in patient characteristics (e.g. tumor size and disease severity), measure of tumor response and length of follow-up also impacted the quality of available evidence. Additional well-designed studies with larger patient populations to include comparative studies are needed to support the safety and effectiveness of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), also referred to as kidney cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the lining of the tubules in the kidney. Symptoms of renal cell carcinoma may include: blood in the urine, loss of appetite, pain in the side that doesn’t subside, weight loss and anemia. Standard treatment available for patients with RCC includes surgery, chemotherapy, external or internal radiation therapy, and immunotherapy. Surgical excision in the form of a simple or radical nephrectomy is the accepted, often curative, treatment for stages I, II and III of RCC. HIFU has been proposed as an intervention for small renal masses as well as advanced stage renal malignancy.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature there are a small amount of studies, primarily case series with small patient populations and insufficient data to draw conclusions. The safety and effectiveness of the use of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of renal cancer has not been established. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature there have been isolated case series studies, minimal randomized controlled studies, meta-analysis and systematic reviews published utilizing high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to treat indications such as central nerve system cancers (gliomas), breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Alkins et. al. (2018) noted that ultrasound (US) in clinical medicine is most commonly associated with imaging but can be harnessed to yield an array of biological effects, including thermal ablation of brain tumors. Therapeutic US has been studied for many years, but only within the past 10 years has the technology reached a point where it is safe and practical for clinical adoption. Using large, multi-element arrays, US can be focused through the skull, and combined with MRI for image guidance and real-time thermometry, to create lesions in the brain with millimeter accuracy. Using this technology, true non-invasive surgery can be accomplished with immediate tumor killing. Combining the ablative capabilities of focused US with its other unique effects, such as blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption and radio-sensitization, may eventually result in change of the current glioma treatment paradigm.
The safety and effectiveness of the use of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of central nervous system cancers i.e. gliomas has not been established. Further studies are needed.
In 2015, Peek et. al., reported on a systematic review of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation in the treatment of breast cancer. Studies were eligible if they were performed on patients with breast cancer and objectively recorded at least one clinical outcome measure of response (imaging, histopathological or cosmetic) to HIFU treatment. Nine studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The absence of tumor or residual tumor after treatment was reported for 95.8% of patients (160 of 167). No residual tumor was found in 46.2% (55 of 119; range 17-100%), less than 10% residual tumor in 29.4% (35 of 119; range 0-53%), and between 10 and 90% residual tumor in 22.7% (27 of 119; range 0-60%). The most common complication associated with HIFU ablation was pain (40.1%) and less frequently edema (16.8%), skin burn (4.2%) and pectoralis major injury (3.6%). MRI showed an absence of contrast enhancement after treatment in 82% of patients (31 of 38; range 50-100%), indicative of coagulative necrosis. Correlation of contrast enhancement on pretreatment and post-treatment MRI successfully predicted the presence of residual disease. The authors concluded, HIFU treatment can induce coagulative necrosis in breast cancers. Complete ablation has not been reported consistently on histopathology and no image modality has been able to confidently predict the percentage of complete ablation. Consistent tumor and margin necrosis with reliable follow-up imaging are required before HIFU ablation can be evaluated within large, prospective clinical trials.
In 2017, Dababou et.al., completed a meta-analysis of palliative treatment of pancreatic cancer with high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). The meta-analysis includes a total number of 23 studies with 865 patients, 729 with pancreatic cancer. The population enrolled ranges from 3 patients in the smallest series, up to 61 in the largest study. T2 (variance among studies) was 0.195, and I2 (percentage of variation among studies) was 40% (95% CI: 1–64%); the Q test p-value was 0.026, indicating significant heterogeneity among studies. Among 639 patients treated with HIFU, 567 complained of pancreatic pain before the treatment and 459 patients experienced partial or complete pain relief after treatment. The random effects estimate of the proportion of patients with pain reduction was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.76–86). The authors concluded, HIFU appears to be an effective tool for pain palliation in advanced pancreatic cancer. Studies assessing treatment in patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma are limited by factors such as small sample sizes and heterogeneity in clinical definitions and assessments. Prospective randomized and standardized studies are necessary to confirm the effectiveness of HIFU in relieving pain, and to evaluate for any potential impact on tumor control and patient survival.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature the evidence is insufficient to make any determinations regarding safety and effectiveness for the use of HIFU for these indications. Further prospective randomized studies to include larger patient populations and longer follow-up are needed. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Breast fibroadenoma (FA) is a benign tumor, most often detected during self-examination or clinical breast examination. Usually occurring in geno typical women under the age of 30, they are seen in approximately 10% of all geno typical women during their lifetime. FA account for between 30% and 75% of all breast biopsies, depending on the age of the population being sampled. Because of the superficial location, breast FA is suitable for minimally invasive ablation techniques. These techniques can be divided into heat-based modalities which include high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation and cryoablation. Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature further studies with longer follow up are needed to establish the optimal treatment protocol and to assess the long-term efficacy of HIFU for this indication. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature well designed studies comparing high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) to cryotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and/or external beam radiotherapy are needed to ascertain the effectiveness of HIFU for the treatment of bone metastases. HIFU may provide another treatment option for patients with primary bone tumors who are not surgical candidates or who refuse surgery, but this data needs to be confirmed as well. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Nodular thyroid tissue is common, however most thyroid nodules are benign. Causes of benign thyroid nodules include goiter and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The incidence of malignancy, or thyroid cancer, depends on factors such as age, gender, radiation exposure and family history. Treatment of thyroid cancer depends on the type of cancer, but may include one or more of the following treatments: radioiodine, thyroid hormone suppression and surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Minimally invasive treatments, such as percutaneous ethanol injection sclerotherapy, laser photocoagulation, and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation have been proposed as an alternative to surgery.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature there are limited studies, primarily case series with small patient populations. These studies suggest that high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) may be promising non-invasive tool for nodular thyroid disease, but the available evidence is insufficient data to draw conclusions regarding HIFU for this indication. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Lichen sclerosus, lichen planus, and lichen simplex chronicus are three of the most common non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva. Lichen sclerosus is characterized by intense vulvar itching and can affect women of all ages, but it manifests most commonly in postmenopausal women. Patients with lichen sclerosus have an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, and they should be monitored for malignancy. Lichen planus is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect the vulva and the vagina; it peaks in incidence between ages 30 and 60. There are three clinical variants of lichen planus affecting the vulva: erosive, papulosquamous, and hypertrophic. Lichen simplex chronicus is caused by persistent itching and scratching of the vulvar skin, which results in a thickened, leathery appearance. It is thought to be an atopic disorder in many cases and may arise in normal skin as a result of psychological stress or environmental factors. Definitive diagnosis of non-neoplastic disorders depends on the histology of biopsied tissue. All three disorders are treated with topical corticosteroid ointments of varying potency. Lichen sclerosus and lichen planus are not routinely treated with surgery, which is necessary only in patients who have a malignancy or advanced scarring that causes dyspareunia or clitoral phimosis. High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) recently has been studied as a treatment modality for non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva (NNEDV) (vulvar dystrophy).
Ruan et. al. (2010) evaluated the effectiveness of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment of patients with non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva. These researchers reviewed 41 cases of lichen sclerosus, 38 cases of squamous cell hyperplasia, and 17 mixed cases. Biopsy specimens were assessed with light microscopy before and after treatment. Pruritus and signs of vulvar lesions were dramatically improved after HIFU treatment, without severe complications, and 90.2 % of the patients were cured or had their symptoms improved 6 months after treatment. On light microscopy, pigmentation and epithelial structures were recovered and dermal lymphocytic infiltration was reduced. The response rates were lower and complication rates higher among lichen sclerosus than among squamous cell hyperplasia cases (p < 0.05 for both). The authors concluded that treatment with HIFU may be safe and effective in cases of vulvar dystrophy. The findings of this trial need to be validated by well-designed studies with larger number of patients and longer follow-up periods.
In 2016, Zhou et. al. reported on the efficacy of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for the treatment of non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva (NNEDV). This was a multi-center, randomized controlled trial in women with NNEDV based on histologic alterations. Enrolled patients were clinically diagnosed with NNEDV. They were randomized into 2 treatment groups: 1) halcinonide for 3 months or 2) HIFU once. A total of 123 patients were biopsied both prior to and after the therapy, and 62 and 61 patients were assigned to the HIFU and halcinonide groups, respectively. The histological changes were then analyzed. After the treatments, the therapeutic effects were observed in both groups. Comparing the diagnosis and alterations in lichenoid and sclerotic patterns and in chronic inflammation, we found statistically significant differences. Furthermore, when compared with the halcinonide group, the HIFU group exhibited enhanced curative effects that were statistically significant (P = 0.039). The authors concluded, based on the histological evidence from this randomized, controlled trial, HIFU represents an effective method for the treatment of NNEDV.
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature there are limited studies, one randomized controlled trial was found. These studies suggest that high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) may be promising non-invasive tool for non-neoplastic epithelial disorders of the vulva (NNEDV). Further studies with longer follow up are needed to establish the optimal treatment protocol and to assess the long-term efficacy of HIFU for this indication. The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
Many local therapies have been investigated for the treatment of localized prostate cancer in the initial disease and recurrent settings, with the goals of reducing side effects and matching the cancer control of therapies. Cryotherapy or other local therapies are not recommended as routine primary therapy for localized prostate cancer due to lack of long-term data comparing these treatments to radiation or radical prostatectomy. At this time, the panel recommends only cryosurgery and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU; category 2B) as local therapy options for radiation therapy recurrence in the absence of metastatic disease.
HIFU has been studied for the treatment of initial disease. A prospective multi-institutional study used HIFU in 111 patients with localized prostate cancer. The radical treatment-free survival rate was 89% at 2 years, and continence and erectile functions were preserved in 97% and 78% of patients, respectively at 12 months. Morbidity was acceptable with grade III complication rate of 13%. In another prospective multi-institutional study 625 men with localized prostate cancer were treated with HIFU. Eighty-four percent of the cohort had intermediate or high- risk disease. The primary endpoint of FFS was 88% at 5 years (95% CI. 85%-91%). Pad-free urinary continence was reported by 98% of participants. Other case series studies have seen similar results.
HIFU also has been studied for treatment of radiation recurrence. Analysis of a prospective registry of men treated with HIFU for radiation recurrence revealed median biochemical recurrence-free survival at 63 months, 5-year OS of 88%, and cancer specific survival of 94%. Morbidity was acceptable with a grade III/IV complication rate of 3.6%. Analysis of a separate prospective registry showed that 48% of men who received HIFU following radiotherapy failure were able to avoid ADT at median follow-up at 64 months.
Options for primary salvage therapy for those with positive biopsy but low suspicion of metastases to distant organs includes observation or radical prostatectomy with PLND in selected cases by highly experienced surgeons. Salvage radical prostatectomy can result in long-term disease control but is often associated with impotence and urinary incontinence. Other options for localized interventions include cryotherapy, HIFU (category 2B0, and brachytherapy. Treatment, however, needs to be individualized based on the patient’s risk of progression, the likelihood of success, and the risks involved with salvage therapy.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of thyroid cancer.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of soft tissue sarcoma.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of breast cancer.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of hepatobiliary cancers.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of central nervous system cancers.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of kidney cancer.
The current guideline does not include or indicate the use of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in the treatment and management of pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
In 2017, the American Urological Association (AUA), American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) issued a guideline on clinically localized prostate cancer, which included the following guideline statements regarding high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU):
The Panel recommends that if HIFU is offered as an alternative treatment modality for localized prostate cancer, it should be done within the context of a clinical trial. Prospective randomized or comparative trials with other treatment modalities are lacking. Published five year oncologic outcomes are variable and attributable to the lack of consensus on objective response criteria.78 However, it has been recognized that the PSA nadir level after whole gland HIFU is predictive of biochemical recurrence.261 The Panel awaits the results of well-designed comparative clinical trials in order to define the appropriate role of this technology in the management of localized prostate cancer. Whole prostate ablation utilizing HIFU with or without short term neoadjuvant ADT has been associated with a comparable incidence of post-treatment incontinence, bladder neck/urethral stricture, and rectourethral fistulae.
In 2018, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) endorsed the clinical practice guideline of an American Urological Association/American Society of Radiation Oncology/Society of Urologic Oncology guideline for clinically localized prostate cancer (see above).
The 2011 American College of Radiology Expert Panel on Radiation Oncology-Prostate Work Group’s guideline on locally advanced (high risk) prostate cancer does not mention the use of HIFU in the list of treatment options. The summary states that HIFU is currently an experimental therapy.
In 2016, American College of Radiology Expert Panel on Radiation Oncology-Prostate Work Group’s guideline on locally advanced high risk prostate cancer was updated and states, “Ablative treatments including cryotherapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) are other options available to men with high-risk prostate cancer, though data are limited for these modalities. There was insufficient literature using parameters employed for these modalities to be included in the assessment of high-risk prostate cancer”.
The panel did not include other treatment options i.e. ablative treatments cryotherapy and high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in their summary of recommendations.
In October 2015, the Sonablate 450 (SonaCare Medical) was approved by FDA through a de novo request and classified the device as class II under the generic name “high intensity ultrasound system for prostate tissue ablation”. This device was the first of its kind to be approved in the United States. A similar device, Ablatherme (EDAP TMS), was cleared for marketing by FDA through the 510(k) process shortly thereafter.
On July 28, 2017 the Ablatherm® Fusion was determined to be substantially equivalent to Ablatherm® Integrated Imaging and Sonablate® and is indicated for the ablation of prostate tissue. The purpose of the 510(k) submission was to add an optional feature that would provide MRI images and/or biopsies positions fused with the system’s live ultrasound imaging. This option is referred to as AblaFusion (FDA, 2017). On November 6, 2015, the FDA granted 510(k) marketing clearance for the Ablatherm Integrated Imaging High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) device (EDAP Technomed, Inc., Austin, TX). The Ablatherm was determined to be substantially equivalent to the Sonablate device and is indicated for the ablation of prostate tissue. Ablatherm HIFU is administered via a transrectal probe under imaging guidance. The device uses HIFU to elevate the tissue temperature within the target zone of the prostate, resulting in tissue necrosis, while the surrounding tissue is kept at physiologically safe temperatures. Ablatherm HIFU treatment completely destroys the targeted prostate tissue (FDA, 2015).
On June 7, 2018 the Focal One® (EDAP Technomed, Inc, Austin, TX) was determined to be substantially equivalent to the Ablatherm and Sonablate and is indicated for the ablation of prostate tissue (FDA, 2018). “The Focal One® is an evolution from the previous generation device, designed by EDAP: Ablatherm Integrated Imaging (K153023) and Ablatherm Fusion (K172285). The Focal One consists of the Focal One module with a software control system, an endorectal dynamic focusing probe, a leg holder, a set of single use disposables and a coupling liquid pouch” (FDA, 2018).
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High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is considered investigational for all indications including but not limited to the following:
Based on the review of the peer reviewed medical literature the long-term efficacy and safety of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) compared to established interventions for various conditions has not been proven in controlled clinical trials for any indication. Additional randomized clinical trials with larger patient populations comparing established interventions are needed to determine the role of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). The evidence is insufficient to determine the effects on net health outcomes.
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