ME alumna Allison Payne, Ph.D., of the University of Utah Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, and her colleagues at the Focused Ultrasound Laboratory, developed a new system that might sound like Star Trek medicine. They are part of the the Utah Center for Advanced Imaging Research (UCAIR). This system truly is the future of non-invasive surgery – and it’s poised for clinical trials.

By Michael Mozdy, science writer in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences

A woman with a small breast tumor walks into an outpatient appointment with her radiologist, slips into a gown, and lays face-down on the table of an MRI machine. This table is built for a specific purpose – it has a space where her breast hangs suspended in water and a cradle for her forehead. The machinery under its plastic cover houses a computer-controlled, concave transducer that resembles a scuba mask. This transducer will focus the high-power ultrasound waves produced by its 256 ceramic, pencil eraser-sized elements to a precise point the size of a grain of rice.

The table and the woman slide into the bore of the MRI machine and, from a control panel outside the room, her radiologist uses MRI to locate the small tumor. After an hour of focused ultrasound waves that ablate (burn) every part of the tumor and some post-treatment imaging, the woman can put her clothes back on and walk out, tumor killed.

Full story . . .

Pictured are members of the Focused Ultrasound Laboratory with the Muse focused ultrasound breast ablation device (left-to-right): Dennis Parker, PhD, Robb Merrill, Emilee Minagla, Allison Payne, PhD, Rock Hadley, PhD.