A promising technique

Therapeutic ultrasound is the use of high intensity ultrasonic waves to induce modifications in body tissues, in particular through various thermal and mechanical effects.

After the discovery of piezoelectricity by Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880 and the invention of the piezoelectric transducer by Paul Langevin during World War I, the first investigations into non-invasive ablation are attributed to Lynn and Putnam in the early 1940s.

Since the 1990s, this form of treatment has advanced rapidly, from lithotripsy and thermal coagulation to new areas of medical research.

The aim is to be able to treat disease in humans and in particular to treat benign or malignant tumours in a wide variety of organs.

Developing this non-invasive technique is appealing from the point of view of the limitations of conventional treatments and the need to reduce health costs.

Among the advantages of therapeutic ultrasound, the possibility of repeating treatments should also be mentioned, and other paths being investigated include:

  • local release of medication
  • local activation of medication
  • a gene therapy solution for transferring genes through cell membranes

Today, it is widely acknowledged that therapeutic ultrasound represents one of the most promising fields of R&D in the coming decades for the treatment of many diseases because of its unique potential as a non-invasive, localised, remote and non-ionizing treatment.

In view of the expected benefits, the challenges are great. In addition to the complexity of the phenomena of the interaction between ultrasound and body tissue, the development of technological solutions gives rise to many challenges and demands:

  • the variety and high level of demands in the design of systems, in particular as regards adapting to the specificities of applications
  • the conditions to be met to ensure the effectiveness and safety of treatments
  • the multiplicity of the resulting requirements in the design of the transducers (efficiency, power, focusing and steering capacity, compatibility with requirements of access to the target tissues, and compatibility with targeting and monitoring imaging constraints, etc.)
  • the variety of the interactions and the physical phenomena at work in the operation and characterization of these transducers

These many challenges will not be able to be taken up without close collaboration between those involved, in particular, clinicians, researchers, and designers of systems and transducers.

For over twenty years, IMASONIC has been collaborating with many research laboratories and manufacturers of medical devices and has produced transducers for them for
therapeutic applications, from laboratory research to clinical practice.

The knowledge and skills offered today are the result of this experience and for this, we thank all the researchers, systems designers and experimental scientists who have worked with us and who, through their work, are contributing to advancing the development of therapeutic ultrasound.