High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is a promising non-invasive thermal ablation technique.

Unlike diagnostic ultrasound, HIFU focuses the ultrasound waves precisely upon a target. In a similar way to how light can be focused to a burning point by a magnifying glass, ultrasound passes through the body without any effect but generating lethal heat (>65C) exactly where they are focused.

HIFU can be guided by magnetic resonance (MR) or ultrasound. MR has the advantage of improved anatomical resolution and may provide quantification of temperature around the ablation zone. Ultrasound is the cheapest imaging modality available that provides real-time images using the same form of energy used for treatment. Independent of imaging modality, the advantage of this technique is its non-invasive nature and therefore higher patient acceptability and improved cosmetic outcomes.

Already established in the treatment of other pathologies (i.e. uterine fibroids), this technique applied to breast tumors in several trials in progress seems to be promising.

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