What are the advantages of histotripsy?

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2024
General Surgery

In the realm of cancer treatment, innovation is key to unlocking new avenues of hope for patients and clinicians alike. Among the arsenal of emerging technologies, histotripsy stands out as a groundbreaking approach with the potential to revolutionize how we combat certain types of cancer. In this blog, we break down the different key benefits to using histotripsy for liver tumor treatment.

Defining histotripsy

First, it’s important to understand what exactly histotripsy is. Histotripsy is an innovative, non-invasive treatment for solid tumors. Histotripsy uses focused ultrasound waves to precisely destroy cancer cells in the liver without needles or incisions. Unlike traditional methods such as surgery or radiation therapy, histotripsy does not rely on heat to destroy tissue. Instead, it employs high frequency ultrasound waves to target and destroy the tumor, turning it into tiny fragments that the body can naturally eliminate. This allows the normal organ structures such as blood vessels or bile ducts to remain without injury even though the tumor cells next to them have been destroyed. Histotripsy is the first type of treatment that can accomplish this feat.

Are there any advantages of histotripsy?

There are several key advantages of histotripsy, making it a great, alternative option in liver cancer treatment.

Non-invasive: Unlike traditional methods such as surgery, radiation or ablation; the procedure does not require any incisions, radiation, needles or invasive procedures. The entire procedure is done using ultrasound waves. For those that are unable to undergo a big operation to surgically remove part of the liver, this is a very beneficial option.

No ionizing radiation: Histotripsy is a great option for patients with tumors that are not ideal candidates for radiation therapies, although histotripsy can be used after radiation therapies such as Y90 radioembolization and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).

Preserves normal liver structuresThrough histotripsy, we can target and destroy specific cancerous tissue within the liver. It’s able to target just the cancer area in the liver without damaging anything else to the patient.

Highly effective: An important aspect of histotripsy is the way the body breaks down destroyed cancer cells after histotripsy. Unlike ablation technologies or surgery that either liquefy or cut out tumor cells, histotripsy creates a mechanical destruction of cancer cells. These destroyed cancer cells then are exposed to the body’s immune system which recognize parts of those cells including DNA and RNA. The body’s immune system then can improve its recognition of cancer cells and attempt to destroy them using the body’s normal immune responses.

Faster procedureAnother positive of histotripsy is that it is an outpatient procedure. The duration of treatment all depends on the patient’s condition. However, in most cases, procedures are relatively quick compared to other methods. Reducing the need for hospitalization and enabling faster return to normal activities.

Minimal recovery timeJust like the duration of the procedure, the recovery time is dependent on different factors, such as overall health. Generally, histotripsy is associated with a shorter recovery period. This is because it is a non-invasive treatment option.

Does not interfere with other cancer treatments: Finally, as histotripsy does not involve making incisions or injections with needles, there is no requirement to hold or discontinue other cancer treatments during histotripsy procedures. Based on early clinical studies, it appears safe to undergo a histotripsy procedure without disrupting chemotherapy, radiation or other important cancer treatments. This is significant as it allows your cancer treatment team to maximize all of your therapies to improve the effectiveness of your cancer care.

Candidates of histotripsy

Any patient with liver tumors is a potential candidate for histotripsy. This includes tumors that have formed within the liver or those that have spread to the liver from other organs. Examples include:

Cancers that spread to the liver (i.e., liver metastases) such as:

  • Colon Cancer
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors
  • Sarcoma / Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Or cancers that formed in the liver such as:

  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

Histotripsy represents a promising frontier in the fight against cancer – offering patients a safe, effective and minimally invasive alternative to traditional treatments. Its ability to precisely target tumors while minimizing damage to healthy tissue makes it a valuable addition to the medical industry. Histotripsy holds the potential to transform the prognosis for liver cancer patients worldwide, providing hope for a brighter future in the battle against this disease.

Histotripsy with NGMC

If you or your loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, discussing treatment options with your healthcare team is the first step. When navigating cancer, you can turn to Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) for the expertise you need. Our team can review your previous treatments, including imaging and other tests to see if you could benefit from histotripsy for liver cancer.

Our liver tumor team includes experienced specialists consisting of liver surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists that have expertise in treating these challenging diseases. Our team will work with your current healthcare team to ensure that you are receiving the best treatments possible for your cancer.

Learn more

If you’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer, you want the reassurance of knowing you can receive the care you need, close to home. At NGMC, you can find the advanced treatment options needed for liver cancer, including histotripsy.

For more information about NGMC’s cancer program, click here.