Benefits of combining treatments - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Benefits of combining treatments

Madison (MedStar) -- An ultrasound and an MRI are different screening tools used to detect health problems.

  Now new technology combining the two could end up treating them.

  Brenda Gallagher said, "it was the best thing since sliced bread."

  When Brenda Gallagher's life was disrupted by painful uterine fibroids, doctors used breakthrough technology to destroy the tumors and get her back on her feet.

  She added, "it was easy. I had took a day off work basically to have the procedure done and I was back to work the next day."

  The procedure, called MR-guided focused ultrasound, uses heat and sound and it's non-invasive.

  The patient lies on a special table in an MRI while doctors aim multiple beams of ultrasound energy to destroy the tumors.

  Doctor Paul Curtis said, "the principle is sound waves that will go through the normal tissue harmlessly, but they can be concentrated into a point where great heat is developed."

  It's like using a magnifying glass to focus beams of sunlight to burn a hole in a newspaper - a simple concept with the potential to treat a lot more than fibroids.

  Doctor Andre Konski is testing the technology on patients who have pain from cancer that's spread to the bone.

  He said, "I think it's very promising to be able to use a noninvasive treatment to help patients in their last months and weeks of life."

  It works just like it did for fibroids, except this time doctors focus the ultrasound beams on the area of pain.

  Doctor Konski also said, "the ultrasound destroys the nerve endings surrounding the bone so the bone can never, no longer feel the pain."

  So far, the results are promising.

  And so is the future of this up and coming technology.

  Doctor Neal Kassell said, "this has been called the best kept secret in medicine."

  Doctor Neal Kassell says focused ultrasound could one day treat a wide range of diseases.

  He added, "brain tumors, kidney tumors, liver tumors, prostate, breast, pancreas."

  He thinks the new technology may even replace radiation therapy.

  "You can only deliver a certain amount of radiation to a human without killing them. There's much greater precision and accuracy in the use of this," Doctor Kassell said.

  Future uses include destroying lesions in the brain that cause Parkinson's tremors, and to treat and prevent a stroke.

  Doctor Kassell also said, "both from a hemorrhage in the brain, dissolving that blood clot and allowing it to be drained, as well as, opening up blocked blood vessels and restoring blood flow."

  It's life-saving technology that holds a lot of promise for the future.

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