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University of Virginia dedicates institute for ultrasound ablation

University of Virginia dedicates institute for ultrasound ablation

A new research center for MR-guided focused ultrasound ablation at the University of Virginia is aiming to become a leader in translational and clinical research for emerging interventional procedures.

"The University is proud to be a partner in helping to turn a ‘big idea' into a world-class facility," said Dr. Tim Garson, provost at the University of Virginia, speaking before dedication ceremonies Sept 14. "This will become the leading center for translational research, education, and patient care in the new and rapidly evolving field of MR-guided focused ultrasound."

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Focused ultrasound uses MRI guidance to direct multichannel ultrahigh frequency ultrasound to ablate tumors and treat other conditions as an alternative to open surgery or radiation therapy.

The UVA Center will initially offer uterine fibroid therapy, the first application of the focused ultrasound technology to receive FDA approval. In the future, it will also host clinical trials on uterine fibroids and fertility; Parkinson's disease and epilepsy; liver, brain, breast, and prostate tumors; and pain from bony metastasis.

Together, the state of Virginia and the Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation covered $7.1 million of the $8 million cost of establishing the institute. Other contributors included GE Healthcare, which manufactures ultrasound and MRI systems, and InSightec, an ultrasound equipment maker.

The center is designed to encourage collaboration between scientists and physicians in biomedical engineering, neurosurgery, surgery, radiology, cardiology, radiation oncology, neurology, urology, and gynecology. Potential applications include:

  • noninvasive ablation of breast, prostate, liver, and other benign and malignant tumors
  • early clinical intervention of ischemic stroke
  • treatment of Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, chronic pain, heart disease, and diabetes.

"The mission of the foundation is to develop new applications and to accelerate the worldwide adoption of focused ultrasound," said Dr. Neal Kassell, UVA professor of neurosurgery. "By creating a center of excellence we can make this happen sooner—and thereby reduce the death, disability, and suffering of untold numbers of patients."

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