HIFU FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

HIFU & ABLATHERM System:
What is the history of HIFU and how long has it been done?

Does HIFU only treat the cancerous cells or does it ablate the entire prostate?
If the entire prostate is treated, does that include the urethra? What happens to the urethra? Is it damaged?

Treatment & Travel:
Where can I have the treatment done?
• How do I schedule treatment?
Is the procedure covered by insurance or Medicare?
What information do you need from me prior to treatment?

 

HIFU & ABLATHERM System:

What is the history of HIFU and how long has it been done?
Research on HIFU began in the 1950s at Indiana University. In 1994, the first human prostate cancer study was done by Dr. Marberger and Madersbacher at the Univ. of Vienna in Austria treating 29 human prostates in vivo shortly before performing a radical prostatectomy. The goal was to see if the energy delivered was enough to destroy the desired tissue. The study found that treatment could be performed safely and could be repeated. In 1995, a study done at IU showed that the whole prostate could be treated without damaging the prostate capsule or the rectal wall. There are over 150 physicians using the Ablatherm system worldwide and over 37000 total procedures have been completed with the Ablatherm.

Does HIFU only treat the cancerous cells or does it ablate the entire prostate?
HIFU treats the entire prostate by targeting tissue in six overlapping treatment zones, or can be used focally, treating only the cancerous cells. The tissue is heated rapidly in small lesions until eventually the entire prostate is ablated.

If the entire prostate is treated, does that include the urethra? What happens to the urethra? Is it damaged?
The urethra is derived from a different type of tissue (bladder squamous-type epithelium) rather than prostatic tissue (glandualr, fibrotic and muscular). While the urethra is an important anatomical structure, the sphincter and bladder neck are more important in maintaining urinary function. During HIFU, the sphincter and the bladder neck are identified and avoided.


Treatment & Travel:

Where can I have the treatment done?
HIFU with the Ablatherm or any other HIFU sysem is not approved for use in the U.S. The Ablatherm system remains investigational in the U.S. and is being studied for the treatment of prostate cancer in clinical trials in the U.S. FDA has made no decision as to the safety or efficacy of the Ablatherm or other HIFU procedure for the treatment of prostate cancer. Currently, Dr. Wheeler treats in Cancun & London England.

How do I schedule treatment?
For more information, call 877-766-8400

Is the procedure covered by insurance or Medicare?
Since the procedure is not yet approved by the FDA and is performed outside of the United States, US-based insurance companies and Medicare do not normally provide coverage for the treatment. However, patients may be able to receive reimbursements from their insurance companies by filing claims after the procedure.
You may be able to deduct HIFU as a medical expense on your taxes; for more information on deducting medical expenses please consult with your accountant.

What information do you need from me prior to treatment?
When you make arrangements for treatment and schedule a date the HIFU medical team will send you information about how to prepare for the treatment.