What is Echotherapy?
It is a new therapy that uses therapeutic ultrasound (rather than diagnostic ultrasound) to non-invasively destroy tumors. Imagine rays of sun shining through a magnifying glass: the rays all intersect and are concentrated to create one point of heat. Echotherapy uses the same idea with ultrasound instead of light. The ultrasound beams intersect in the target, which is the fibroadenoma, and rapidly heats it up to about 85°C. This makes a type of “melting process” during the echotherapy session. The echotherapy continues to have an effect after the treatment and the nodule continues to progressively become smaller. This is because the body gradually breaks down the “melted” tissues. This treatment is outpatient, requires no incisions and therefore is scarless.
What does the procedure entail?
The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, thereby avoiding general anesthesia. This means you will get an injection of numbing medication in the treatment area. You lie down on your back or side. The doctor immobilizes the breast with the fibroadenoma. Using the ultrasound imaging technology directly integrated into the device, the doctor can view and precisely locate the area to be treated, and the ultrasound treatment will be delivered to the very core of the fibroadenoma.
How long does the procedure last? How many sessions are required?
The actual treatment time might be as short as 20min if the fibroadenoma is not too big. Nevertheless, you should plan for 1-2 hours for positioning, local anesthesia, discussion with the doctors, etc. Only one session is necessary for the procedure, except for very large fibroadenomas, in which case two sessions may be required. You will likely be able to return to your normal daily activities the same day.
Is it painful?
You will receive a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort during the procedure. Sometimes you may feel tingling, which may be severe. But if you feel any unpleasant sensations, just let your doctor know and he/she will adjust the intensity of the treatment or the anesthesia accordingly.
Is the result guaranteed? Will the fibroadenoma be completely eliminated?
All patients treated with echotherapy so far have observed a reduction in the size of their fibroadenoma, up to 90% in volume after 12 months. More importantly, they report the disappearance of symptoms relating to their fibroadenoma.
What do I need to do to receive this treatment?
You will need to gather any documents you have, namely ultrasound reports and biopsy results.
Why? Does that mean that the treatment isn’t suitable for everyone?
The doctor must ensure that the fibroadenoma’s size and location won’t jeopardize the treatment’s effectiveness. This verification is performed to ensure optimal results.
Is it 100% safe?
To be approved for use on fibroadenoma, comprehensive studies were performed o prove echotherapy effectiveness. In addition, several monitoring tools are used to ensure the treatment is safe and effective. For instance, the doctor will use ultrasound to observe the effects of the treatment in real-time while he/she is treating you. In the studies, echotherapy has been well-tolerated by patients and has produced no serious adverse events.
How much does the procedure cost? Is it reimbursed?
The HIFU procedure and all study related clinic visits and ultrasounds are provided at no cost to you and your insurance. Any tests or care given beyond the study requirements will need to be paid by you or your health insurance. More details will be given during your appointment and are listed in the consent form.