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Histotripsy as Cancer Therapy

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Will histotripsy reduce the side effects that result from cancer therapy? About 30% of PeopleBeatingCancer is dedicated to the adverse events aka side effects that can result from chemotherapy and radiation. All I have to do is research and write about my own short, long-term and late stage side effect.

Though histotripsy is comparatively new as cancer therapies go, I am blogging about it because I think it has a great deal of potential for cancer patients in the future.

What is histotripsy?

Histotripsy is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses high-intensity ultrasound waves to break down tissue. It is a form of therapeutic ultrasound that can be used for a variety of medical applications, including tissue ablation.

In histotripsy ablation, focused ultrasound waves are directed at a target tissue. The waves create tiny bubbles within the tissue, and when these bubbles collapse or implode, they generate mechanical forces that break down the tissue into a fine particulate matter. This process is called cavitation.


  1. Non-Invasive: Histotripsy is a non-invasive procedure, meaning it doesn’t require any incisions or the insertion of instruments into the body. This reduces the risk of complications and typically leads to shorter recovery times compared to invasive procedures.
  2. Precise Tissue Ablation: Histotripsy is highly precise in targeting and destroying tissue. It can be used to selectively target and destroy specific regions without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.
  3. Reduced Side Effects: Because it’s so precise, histotripsy tends to have fewer side effects compared to other forms of tissue ablation. There’s less damage to adjacent tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
  4. Minimal Pain and Discomfort: Patients generally experience less pain and discomfort compared to traditional surgery or other ablation methods. This can lead to a faster recovery and reduced need for pain management.
  5. Lower Risk of Infection and Complications: Since histotripsy doesn’t involve incisions or the introduction of foreign objects into the body, the risk of infection and other complications is significantly reduced.


  1. Limited Depth of Ablation: The depth to which histotripsy can effectively ablate tissue is limited. It may not be suitable for treating deep-seated tumors or conditions that require treatment in deeper layers of tissue.
  2. Operator Skill Required: Performing histotripsy requires specialized training and expertise. Skilled practitioners are needed to ensure the procedure is done safely and effectively.
  3. Limited Availability: Histotripsy might not be available in all medical facilities. It may be limited to specialized centers or academic hospitals.
  4. Treatment Duration: Depending on the size and location of the targeted tissue, histotripsy treatments can be time-consuming. This might be a consideration for patients with time constraints.
  5. Cost: While the cost of histotripsy can vary depending on factors like location and insurance coverage, it can be expensive compared to some other treatment options.
  6. Not Suitable for All Conditions: Histotripsy may not be the optimal treatment choice for all medical conditions. The suitability of histotripsy depends on factors like the size, location, and type of tissue being treated.

As with any medical procedure, the decision to use histotripsy should be made after careful consideration of the individual patient’s condition, the expertise of the medical team, and a thorough discussion of the potential risks and benefits.

Keep in mind that while histotripsy is a promising medical technique, its specific applications and availability may vary based on factors like location, healthcare facility, and the latest advancements in the field of medical technology. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding medical procedures and treatments.

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Histotripsy: the first noninvasive, non-ionizing, non-thermal ablation technique based on ultrasound

“Histotripsy is the first noninvasive, non-ionizing, and non-thermal ablation technology guided by real-time imaging. Using focused ultrasound delivered from outside the body, histotripsy mechanically destroys tissue through cavitation, rendering the target into acellular debris.

The material in the histotripsy ablation zone is absorbed by the body within 1–2 months, leaving a minimal remnant scar. Histotripsy has also been shown to stimulate an immune response and induce abscopal effects in animal models, which may have positive implications for future cancer treatment.

Histotripsy has been investigated for a wide range of applications in preclinical studies, including the treatment of cancer, neurological diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

Three human clinical trials have been undertaken using histotripsy for the treatment of:

  • benign prostatic hyperplasia,
  • liver cancer, and
  • calcified valve stenosis.

This review provides a comprehensive overview of histotripsy covering the origin, mechanism, bioeffects, parameters, instruments, and the latest results on preclinical and human studies…

Cancer (for tumors outside the brain)

This section summarizes the preclinical studies for tumors outside the brain, including

  • liver cancer,
  • prostate cancer,
  • renal cancer,
  • breast cancer
  • pancreatic cancer, and
  • musculoskeletal cancer.

In addition, histotripsy has been shown to stimulate an immune response with a subsequent abscopal effect in animal tumor models, which is described in g) Immune Response. For the large animal (porcine, canine, and rabbit) models, frequencies between 700 kHz and 1 MHz were used. For small animal (rodent and murine) models, a 1 MHz small animal system was used. Other parameters are listed in Table 1



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