Echotherapy: an innovative treatment
Echotherapy is an innovative treatment alternative using therapeutic ultrasound (HIFU).
Echotherapy uses therapeutic ultrasound. In scientific publication it is often referred to as “High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)” or shorter “Focused Ultrasound (FUS)”. With this technology, multiple intersecting beams of ultrasound are concentrated on a target area using an acoustic lens. The resulting focused ultrasound beam is highly energetic and generates a temperature rise at the focus point. This technology resembles the use of a magnifying glass when beams of sunlight are focused to generate thermal energy. The main advantage is that each of the individual beams are not causing any harm to the surrounding tissue and can pass the skin easily. Only at the focal point where all ultrasound beam come together the desired therapeutic effect takes action. Technological advances and robotics allow for this technology to be highly accurate and precise. The target area is treated step-by-step with each so-called pulse treating an area as small as a pea bean. Additionally, therapy is coupled with ultrasound for imaging. This allows the physician to monitor treatment progress in real-time and guide the therapy for high efficacy and safety.
No incision and no risks with echotherapy
Medically the technology is of high interest due to its potential to treat various medical conditions without any incisions. To understand the underlying biological process, one needs to know that each human cell and tissue contains protein which are vital for the survival and functioning of cells. By generating heat in the target area those proteins are destroyed or denatured and the cells of the tissues which are treated die in consequence. Application of sequential ultrasound pulses are necessary to cover the target tissue and allow treatment sparing surrounding structures. Through echotherapy local temperature rapidly increases leading to the effect which is also known as “thermal ablation”. After the treatment damaged cells are broken down and removed through regular biological processes. At this stage volume reductions (for example in the case of nodule treatment) of the treated target area can be seen.
Treatment for varicose veins
For the treatment of varicose veins the biological mechanisms For the treatment of varicose veins the biological mechanisms caused are slightly different. The ultrasound beam is focused on the vein. The thermal energy created by echotherapy heats the collagen in the targeted vein walls, which causes the varicose vein to shrink and seal shut.