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Innovations – bone metastases

Sounding new relief for cancer sufferers

Physicians at the University Medical Center – Utrecht, the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton, U.K., and elsewhere are effectively treating painful bone metastases with the MR-guided high intensity focused ultrasound system (MR-HIFU) called Philips Sonalleve MR-HIFU. Palliative bone metastasis pain therapy with MR-HIFU can lead to fast pain relief, has fewer side effects than traditional treatments, and helps patients quickly return to normal activities.

Quicker and more comfortable alternative


MR-HIFU was first developed for gynecology to treat uterine fibroids. Palliative treatment of bone metastases is the first step towards using this innovative therapy for oncology applications. The high intensity focused ultrasound system and MR coil elements are integrated in the Sonalleve table. Ultrasound waves are focused onto the target volume, ablating the lesion without affecting nearby tissue. MR-HIFU is a non-invasive treatment, has fewer side effects, and is more comfortable than surgical treatments to reduce patient stress and speed recovery.

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Treatment planning image (a). Temperature map during treatment showing heating of the bone surface and lesser heating of the bone marrow (b).¹

Effective palliative pain relief


Many malignant tumors express themselves by metastasizing into bone structures. This condition is usually associated with severe pain that is not easy to manage. Existing methods of helping to relieve pain, such as drug therapy or irradiation of bone, are often not as effective as desired.


Now Philips Sonalleve MR-HIFU offers an effective way to thermally ablate the nerve endings in the periosteum and thus eliminate the pain caused by bone metastases. One advantage of MR-HIFU therapy is its non-invasive nature: the sound waves are focused through the intact skin into the target area, leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. This technique does not have as many side effects as other types of cancer treatments. The relatively short procedure can make a patient’s pain score drop from extreme values to zero. This can allow patients to resume more of their normal social activities, sleep restfully, and undergo other treatments with more comfort.


The HIFU system and coil elements are integrated in the Sonalleve patient table. During the therapy, ultrasound waves are focused onto the target volume inside the bone metastasis and the sensitive nerves surrounding the bone. Real-time monitoring via temperature sensitive MR imaging is used to obtain uniform temperature distribution.

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Example: Breast cancer patient with bone metastasis in right humerus. The patient suffered from severe pain with strong functional limitations – could not lift her arm without excruciating pain. Pain score on a scale of 0 to 10 was 8 to 9 under activity. The left image is the planning image and the right image shows the thermal monitoring image during the MR-HIFU procedure. After the MF-HIFU treatment, the patient’s pain score dropped to 1 to 2 within two days after treatment and then reduced further to zero. It remained at zero for 90 days follow-up. The patient even accepted an invitation to a tennis match with her daughter. Courtesy: Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey, U.K.

For more information

To find out more about the fast, precise, and effective pain relief Sonalleve can provide for your patients with bone metasteses go to:


The Philips Sonalleve MR-HIFU therapy system or all of its applications are not for sale in certain countries. To determine availability in your area, please contact your local Philips representative.

Written by:

Thomas Andreae

Product Manager

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¹ Clinical images courtesy Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, CN, Canada

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