Magnetic resonance imaging-guided, high-intensity focused ultrasound for brain tumor therapy

Neurosurgery. 2006 Nov;59(5):949-55; discussion 955-6. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000254439.02736.D8.


Objective: Magnetic resonance imaging-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound (MRIgFUS) is a novel technique that may have the potential for precise image-guided thermocoagulation of intracranial lesions. The system delivers small volumetric sonications from an ultrasound phased array transmitter that focuses energy selectively to destroy the target with verification by magnetic resonance imaging-generated thermal maps. A Phase I clinical study was initiated to treat patients with recurrent glioma with MRIgFUS.

Methods: To date, three patients with histologically verified recurrent glioblastoma multiforme have been treated with MRIgFUS. All patients underwent craniectomy 7 to 10 days before therapy to create a bony window for the ultrasound treatment. Sonications were applied to induce thermocoagulation of the enhancing tumor mass. Long-term radiological follow-up and post-treatment tissue specimens were available for all patients.

Results: MRIgFUS treatment resulted in immediate changes in contrast-enhanced T1-, T2-, and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans in the treated regions with subsequent histological evidence of thermocoagulation. In one patient, heating of brain tissue in the sonication path resulted in a secondary focus outside the target causing neurological deficit. New software modifications were developed to address this problem.

Conclusion: In this first clinical report, MRIgFUS was demonstrated to be a potentially effective means of destroying tumor tissue by thermocoagulation, although with an associated morbidity and the inherent invasive nature of the procedure requiring creation of a bone window. A modified technology to allow MRIgFUS treatment through a closed cranium is being developed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*