Are you considering HIFU?

HIFU is a Breakthrough Minimally-Invasive Prostate Cancer Treatment Option

At San Fernando Valley Urological Associates, we have begun investigating a new treatment tool, known as high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU. HIFU is a breakthrough therapy for treating localized prostate cancer. This minimally invasive procedure precisely targets and destroys cancerous tissue with sound waves. The sound waves travel through healthy tissue without causing damage, but when they reach the target area they are focused and the sound wave energy heats the tissue to 90 degrees Celsius (194 Degrees Fahrenheit), destroying it.

As an example of how the technology works, imagine using a magnifying glass on a sunny day to burn a hole in a leaf. If you were to hold the magnifying glass too close to or too far away from the leaf, nothing would happen because you haven’t properly focused the energy in the sun’s rays. However, simply by adjusting the distance of the magnifying glass, you can focus or concentrate the light energy so precisely that it heats and burns a hole in the leaf. At the same time, note that even as the leaf begins to burn, if you passed your finger between the glass and the leaf, you would not burn your finger—in fact, you might not have the sensation of any heat at all.

With HIFU, although the form of energy is different (sound instead of light), because sound waves are able to pass harmlessly through tissue, the effect is the same: The prostate cancer is precisely targeted and destroyed.

Although Dr. Leff offers many treatment options for prostate cancer, ranging from traditional open surgical procedures, such as a radical prostatectomy, and minimally invasive options, such as radiation therapy and cryosurgery. HIFU has distinct therapeutic advantages over other prostate cancer therapies:

  • It is performed on an outpatient basis with general or spinal anesthesia
  • It involves no radiation
  • The procedure takes only one to four hours (depending on prostate size)
  • Recovery time is minimal--patients are usually up and walking around within hours, and can resume normal activities within a couple of days 
  • Research studies have shown HIFU to be highly effective in treating low risk, localized prostate cancer
  • A catheter inserted during the procedure and usually worn for one to three weeks

Dr. Leff has been trained in HIFU utilizing the Sonoblate® 500 medical device developed by Focus Surgery, Inc. Although not approved for use in the United States, more than 6,000 patients in Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America have been treated for prostate cancer with the Sonoblate 500, with excellent results. Dr. Richard Leff performs the procedure at hospitals in Nassau, Bahamas; and Hamilton, Bermuda, and is assisted by the pioneer of the procedure: George Suarez, M.D.

Effectiveness of the Sonoblate® 500

Thousands of patients in Europe, Japan and other nations have undergone HIFU, and studies have shown that the technique produces results that are comparable to current standard treatment methods for prostate cancer. One Japanese study followed HIFU patients for three years after their procedures and in those patients who had a pre-HIFU PSA <10, 94% were cancer free, meaning that they had no biochemical presence of the disease.

Complications from HIFU

Regardless of the treatment option chosen, all prostate cancer treatments have some risks associated with them, and may cause complications and side effects. Because HIFU is minimally invasive, patients generally have fewer side effects and complications. As with all medical procedures, patients should consult with their surgeon to ensure that they fully understand the risks, as well as the benefits, of each treatment option. For a list of potential risks associated with HIFU please visit

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