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From Minimally Invasive to Non-invasive: KMUH Establishes International Reputation in New HIFU Treatment



The High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) procedure is mainly applied in the treatment of liver cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, osteosarcoma, pancreas cancer, and uterine fibroid. It is adopted in 24 countries and has been used in the treatment of over one hundred thousand cases. In April 2015, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital was the first to conduct HIFU procedures in southern Taiwan. It was used to treat uterine fibroids and adenomyosis, with a price tag that was much more affordable than other countries. KMUH has successfully treated over 500 patients, with 4% coming from abroad from countries including Denmark ,Switzerland,Canada and USA. A British patient even came via referral from a local physician in the UK. At the year-end Taiwan Healthcare Expo, KMUH will be displaying a model of the HIFU machine and sharing its experience in using HIFU treatment.

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound - New Nearly Painless Non-invasive Treatment


HIFU uses high energy ultrasound waves focused on a point to generate heat energy. The procedure can heat uterine fibroids or adenomyosis to 60°C through the abdomen wall, the bladder, and the uterine muscles. The proteins inside the heated cells denature, causing coagulative necrosis of the fibroid or adenomyoma cells, which are then gradually absorbed by the normal myometrial tissues. In this way, the symptoms are alleviated and the tumor ablated. HIFU can also be used to treat endometriosis, Cesarean scar pregnancy and placenta accreta.  Prior to the procedure, only an ultrasound, MRI, and blood test need to be done to confirm the character, size and location of the tumor. Research shows that this is a highly safe and effective non-invasive procedure. Since most patients are awake during this procedure, they can verbally express their discomfort. Most patients only feel dull pain similar to that during menstrual period. Only a small proportion of patients feel severe pain or no pain at all. Most also experience good postoperative recovery.


KMUH to Expand HIFU Center in Asia


Vice Superintendent Cherng-Jye Jeng remarked that as many as 8 patients have successfully conceived after treatment and 5 "HIFU babies" have been born so far. However, since the HIFU equipment requires a lot of space, most of them are located in southern Taiwan. The goal is to establish several HIFU centers in greater Taipei area within 3 years. KMUH hopes to establish some HIFU centers in Taiwan's name in Mainland China and South East Asian Countries to benefit more patients as well. Plans are also in place for KMUH to jointly develop a new generation of HIFU equipment with a manufacturer to build its own brand and establish a training center. The training center will bring in simulators to train the next generation of doctors and pass on their experience. KMUH will also establish a database to elevate Taiwan's place in academia.


Aside from the HIFU procedure, KMUH will also be putting other techniques and medical devices on display. These include their world-class orbicularis oculi muscle procedure, breast reconstruction with autologous fat tissue, the 3D-printed ceramic interpenetrating pore structure bone substitute, and the vestibular function evaluation device developed in-house which can help provide a quick diagnosis and a personalized rehabilitation and treatment plan. KMUH will also be showcasing their top-notch dental training center, the only one of its kind in Taiwan.

(Editing by Nicole Yang, Research Center for Biotechnology and Medicine Policy)