Image-guided focused ultrasound ablation of breast cancer: current status, challenges, and future directions

Eur Radiol. 2008 Jul;18(7):1431-41. doi: 10.1007/s00330-008-0906-0. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Image-guided focussed ultrasound (FUS) ablation is a non-invasive procedure that has been used for treatment of benign or malignant breast tumours. Image-guidance during ablation is achieved either by using real-time ultrasound (US) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The past decade phase I studies have proven MRI-guided and US-guided FUS ablation of breast cancer to be technically feasible and safe. We provide an overview of studies assessing the efficacy of FUS for breast tumour ablation as measured by percentages of complete tumour necrosis. Successful ablation ranged from 20% to 100%, depending on FUS system type, imaging technique, ablation protocol, and patient selection. Specific issues related to FUS ablation of breast cancer, such as increased treatment time for larger tumours, size of ablation margins, methods used for margin assessment and residual tumour detection after FUS ablation, and impact of FUS ablation on sentinel node procedure are presented. Finally, potential future applications of FUS for breast cancer treatment such as FUS-induced anti-tumour immune response, FUS-mediated gene transfer, and enhanced drug delivery are discussed. Currently, breast-conserving surgery remains the gold standard for breast cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Interventional*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy* / trends
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*