Future Tense

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Technology: Histotripsy

Developer: Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Purpose: Removal of tissue or malignant and benign tumors

Early adopter: Still being tested at the University of Michigan

How it works: Histotripsy uses intense, targeted ultrasound pulses to break down soft tissue. The pulses form microbubbles that fragment tissue structures, known as acoustic cavitation, while preserving adjacent tissues. The amount of tissue ablation depends on the pulse intensity, repetition frequency, and number of pulses.

Potential improvement: Traditionally, surgical treatment for prostate growths involves inserting a rigid instrument into the penis to scrape away cells lining the gland. Histotripsy can mechanically break apart the tissue noninvasively, which can minimize bleeding, inflammation, and discomfort. And unlike thermally based local ablation techniques, which lack reliable imaging feedback, histotripsy is an image-guided ultrasound procedure that offers precise tissue ablation.

What’s next: Researchers are developing clinical treatment guidelines for early-stage cancer, enlarged prostate, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Carrie Vaughan

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