A new technology, called histotripsy, to trim the interiors of aging prostates in the body, is being developed by scientists at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Traditionally, researchers treated prostate growths by inserting a rigid instrument through the penis and scraping away cells lining the walnut-sized gland.
But, the new technology being developed by urologist William Roberts and a team at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is a less invasive way to remove tissue using focused pulses of ultrasound.
Unlike other therapeutic ultrasound technologies in development, which create heat to boil pathogenic tissue, histotripsy mechanically breaks apart tissue with shorter, strong pulses of ultrasound.
These pulses create tiny bubbles out of dissolved gas in prostate tissue.
As the bubbles violently collapse, they release tiny shock waves, a phenomenon called acoustic cavitation.
Over tens of thousands of pulses, the combined force of these cavitations liquefies nearby tissue into slurry that is eliminated through the urine.
One can monitor the tissue excavation and target it in real time with acoustic imaging.
"Historically, no one believed that cavitation could be controlled like this. We're the only group doing this kind of work," said Roberts.
The researchers used the technique to dissolve marble-sized chunks of cells in the walls of prostates.
After histotripsy treatment, side effects common in traditional prostrate treatments, bleeding and inflammation, were minimal, and the same was observed for signs of discomfort.
Roberts hopes to develop histotripsy into a clinical treatment for early-stage cancer and enlarged prostate (BPH).
The talk "Histotripsy: Urologic applications" (3pBB3) by William Roberts is just a few of the topics that will be covered at the 157th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).