HIFU (prostate)

What is HIFU?

HIFU or high-intensity focused ultrasound, is a method of focusing of sound waves to create heat at a specific point. HIFU is used to heat and destroy targeted tissue during an outpatient procedure.

Word of caution: HIFU is a relatively new procedure. It is approved by the FDA to remove prostate tissue. Though it hasn’t been approved for the treatment of prostate cancer in the U.S., it is being used in clinical trials to treat it.

Researchers are still figuring out how well it works and its side effects.

Men with cancer that hasn’t spread beyond the prostate may get the surgery. Your doctor may suggest it either before you’ve tried other treatments or after radiation therapy that didn’t help. It’s not used when your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.

What to expect around the procedure?

Please contact your medical team for exact instructions since these depend on the device used as well as factors specific to you such as location of cancer, anatomy etc.

You may hear your doctor call it “minimally invasive,” which means a surgeon doesn’t have to cut you open.

The HIFU procedure typically lasts between 1-4 hours, depending on the size of the prostate, and is either done under general anesthesia or an epidural and IV sedation.

During the procedure a suprapubic (a flexible plastic tube that goes through the skin of the lower abdomen into the bladder) catheter will be put into place to help with urination, and will typically stay in place for 1-3 weeks.

After the HIFU treatment, patients typically remain in recovery for about 2-4 hours. Once released from the treatment center, you will return home or to a hotel to recover more comfortably.

Precautions after HIFU

Though, it is recommended that you take things easy, most patients feel well enough to go out for dinner and maybe even a walk, the night after of the procedure. Ask your medical team about the exact restrictions and precautions after the procedure.

What are the side effects of HIFU?

HIFU has fewer side effects than many other treatments for prostate cancer. Immediately after procedure, you will experience the typical side effects of surgical procedure including difficulty urinating, urinary urgency, swelling etc.

Other side effects include pain between your testicles and your rectum, which can often be handled with medication. There’s also a risk for blood in your urine, a urinary infection, and an infection in your testicles.

You may have trouble getting an erection, but this usually goes away in time, and medication(s) can help while you regain this ability. Some men also have trouble peeing or may leak urine between trips to the bathroom.

For any suspected/unexpected side effect, contact your medical team immediately.

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