Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Guided Transurethral Ultrasound Ablation of Prostate Tissue in Patients with Localized Prostate Cancer: A Prospective Phase 1 Clinical Trial

Eur Urol. 2016 Sep;70(3):447-55. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2015.12.029. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging-guided transurethral ultrasound ablation (MRI-TULSA) is a novel minimally invasive technology for ablating prostate tissue, potentially offering good disease control of localized cancer and low morbidity.

Objective: To determine the clinical safety and feasibility of MRI-TULSA for whole-gland prostate ablation in a primary treatment setting of localized prostate cancer (PCa).

Design, setting, and participants: A single-arm prospective phase 1 study was performed at three tertiary referral centers in Canada, Germany, and the United States. Thirty patients (median age: 69 yr; interquartile range [IQR]: 67-71 yr) with biopsy-proven low-risk (80%) and intermediate-risk (20%) PCa were treated and followed for 12 mo.

Intervention: MRI-TULSA treatment was delivered with the therapeutic intent of conservative whole-gland ablation including 3-mm safety margins and 10% residual viable prostate expected around the capsule.

Outcome measurements and statistical analysis: Primary end points were safety (adverse events) and feasibility (technical accuracy and precision of conformal thermal ablation). Exploratory outcomes included quality of life, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and biopsy at 12 mo.

Results and limitations: Median treatment time was 36min (IQR: 26-44) and prostate volume was 44ml (IQR: 38-48). Spatial control of thermal ablation was ±1.3mm on MRI thermometry. Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events included hematuria (43% grade [G] 1; 6.7% G2), urinary tract infections (33% G2), acute urinary retention (10% G1; 17% G2), and epididymitis (3.3% G3). There were no rectal injuries. Median pretreatment International Prostate Symptom Score 8 (IQR: 5-13) returned to 6 (IQR: 4-10) at 3 mo (mean change: -2; 95% confidence interval [CI], -4 to 1). Median pretreatment International Index of Erectile Function 13 (IQR: 6-28) recovered to 13 (IQR: 5-25) at 12 mo (mean change: -1; 95% CI, -5 to 3). Median PSA decreased 87% at 1 mo and was stable at 0.8 ng/ml (IQR: 0.6-1.1) to 12 mo. Positive biopsies showed 61% reduction in total cancer length, clinically significant disease in 9 of 29 patients (31%; 95% CI, 15-51), and any disease in 16 of 29 patients (55%; 95% CI, 36-74).

Conclusions: MRI-TULSA was feasible, safe, and technically precise for whole-gland prostate ablation in patients with localized PCa. Phase 1 data are sufficiently compelling to study MRI-TULSA further in a larger prospective trial with reduced safety margins.

Patient summary: We used magnetic resonance imaging-guided transurethral ultrasound to heat and ablate the prostate in men with prostate cancer. We showed that the treatment can be targeted within a narrow range (1mm) and has a well-tolerated side effect profile. A larger study is under way.

Trial registration: NCT01686958, DRKS00005311.

Keywords: Image-guided intervention; Magnetic resonance imaging; Minimally invasive; Phase 1 clinical trial; Prostate cancer; Transurethral; Ultrasound ablation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Epididymitis / etiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hematuria / etiology
  • High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Ablation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Operative Time
  • Penile Erection
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Quality of Life
  • Recovery of Function
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Transurethral Resection of Prostate / adverse effects
  • Transurethral Resection of Prostate / methods*
  • Urinary Retention / etiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen

Associated data