Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) Lab

Focused Ultrasound at UCSF

Technical Developments

  • Temperature mapping robust to motion
  • Real time integration (RTHawk) with InSightec system
  • Temperature mapping in bone and fat

Basic and Clinical Research

  • Cardiac ablation with high-intensity ultrasound
  • Prostate hyperthermia
  • Pre-clinical studies:
    • Bone regeneration after FUS
    • Effect of sonication duration on ablation depth
    • Facet joint ablation

Clinical Treatments and Trials

  • Uterine fibroids:  targeted vessel ablation in uterine fibroids
  • Palliation of painful bone metastases (commercial and clinical trial)
  • Osteoid osteoma:  upcoming trial, comparison to RF-ablation
  • Desmoid tumors
  • Sarcoma
  • Prostate cancer (upcoming trial) 

FUS Research Projects

T2-based Temperature Monitoring in Abdominal Fat during Fibroid Treatments

  • The goal of this study was to investigate near-field heating in patients treated with the InSightec fibroid system. 
  • Accurate measurement of near-field heating in adipose tissue:
    • shorter treatments
    • preventing injury in healthy tissues

Temperature change from the baseline in the same patient. Intersections of the beam axes and the slice are shown as circles, location of the measurement as “cross”


Ozhinsky E, Kohi MP, Ghanouni P, Rieke V: T2-based temperature monitoring in abdominal fat during MR-guided focused ultrasound treatment of patients with uterine fibroids. J Ther Ultrasound 2015, 3:15.

T2-Mapping as a Predictor for Non-Perfused Volume in MRgFUS Treatments of Desmoid Tumors 

  • Benign but locally aggressive soft tissue tumors that arise from fibroblast cells
  • Conventional therapies: resection, radiation, chemo
    • Recurrence rate up to 50%
  • Rare disease (2-4 per million people/year), but they all seem to end up at UCSF
  • Patient population: pediatric, young adult
  • Can MRgFUS be an alternative treatment?
    • Can T2 mapping during treatment predict NPV?

 desmoid tumor MRI
Desmoid tumor before MRgFUS treatmen.

desmoid t2 maps
Comparison between T2 maps (a) and post-contrast images (b) for the same location for patient 2  The non-perfused volume (NPV) appears dark on the post-contrast images. Arrows show gaps in the NPV, which correspond to areas with low T2 in the T2 maps. 


Ozhinsky E, Bucknor M, Rieke V. T2-Mapping as a Predictor for Non-Perfused Volume in MRgFUS Treatments of Desmoid Tumors
The 16th International Symposium on Therapeutic Ultrasound, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 2016
ISMRM 24rd Annual Meeting in Singapore, May 2016

T2-based Temperature Monitoring in Bone Marrow

  • Proton resonant frequency shift (PRF) thermometry:
    • commonly used for temperature monitoring in water-based tissues 
    • fails to detect temperature change in tissues with high lipid content, such as bone marrow.
  • Current clinical protocols rely on measurement of temperature change of adjacent muscle
  • Poor accuracy of temperature measurement, sub-optimal ablation

Could T2-based thermometry be used to monitor the temperature in bone marrow during focused ultrasound ablation?

Ex-Vivo Bone Marrow
T2 measurement in ex vivo bone marrow during and after the heating. (a) Localizer image showing the ultrasound transducer in the table. (b) T2 map during heating, showing the ROI. (c) Plot of T2 values within the ROI over time.

  • We measured a T2 elevation of 269 ms. 
  • Assuming the T2/temp coefficient of 7 ms/°C, this corresponds to a temperature rise of 38°. 
  • The ex-vivo experiment shows that it takes 10-15 minutes for the marrow to return to the baseline temperature. 

The in-vivo experiment showed excellent correspondence between the area of T2 elevation in marrow during the ablation and the resulting non-enhancing area in the post-contrast images:

In-Vivo Bone Marrow
T2 measurement in in vivo bone marrow: (a) T2 map during ablation of a single sonication, showing the ROI; (b) post-contrast 3D Fast SPGR image after ablation (total of six sonications per location); (c) plot of T2 values within the ROI over time; the highlighted area shows the approximate duration of the sonication.

  • We have demonstrated the measurement of heating with T2-based thermometry in vivo in the marrow during bone ablation. 
  • The ability to monitor the temperature within the bone marrow 
    • allowed visualization of the heat penetration into the bone.
    • important for local lesion control and treatment of osteoid osteomas.


Ozhinsky E, Han M, Bucknor M, Krug R, Rieke V. T2-based temperature monitoring in bone marrow for MR-guided focused ultrasound. J Ther Ultrasound. 2016 Nov 17;4:26.

3D UTE Imaging to Quantify Temperature-Dependent T1 Changes in Cortical Bone

  • FUS is a noninvasive method for treating bone tumors and palliating pain. 
  • To ensure proper heat deposition, temperature mapping is necessary. 
  • Proton resonant frequency shift MR thermometry is not appropriate for cortical bone (T2 ≈ 0.5 ms).
  • Monitoring thermal dose has been only possible by using temperatures in surrounding tissues. 

cortical bone HIFU diagram

  • T1 and T2 change with temperature, resulting in MR signal change (Parker 1984, Ghandi 1998).
  • Ultrashort echo-time (UTE) imaging can generate signal from cortical bone. 
  • UTE depicts bone signal change in a region of temperature increase  (Miller 2012, Ramsey 2015).
  • Our goal: Demonstrate UTE imaging to quantify T1 changes in cortical bone for temperature mapping and accelerate acquisition.


UTE MRI images and T2 Maps
Reconstructed Image and T1 Maps

Publications and Abstracts:

MR Thermometry-guided Prostate Hyperthermia with Real-time Ultrasound Beamforming and Power Control

  • Mild hyperthermia (HT, 40 – 44 °C) augments radiation, chemotherapy, drug delivery

    • Targeted drug delivery – liposomes
    • Anti-tumor immunity stimulation
    • Immune modulation for cancer vaccines
    • Hormone therapy
  • Feasibility of prostate hyperthermia with endorectal ultrasound applicators has been demonstrated in clinical trials

Sonication Patterns

Hyperthermia Controlbeam steering

  • Real-time MR Thermometry
  • Continuous steering of the ultrasound beam towards the coolest spot within the region of treatment


system diagram 
Control flow diagram of the MR Thermometry-based hyperthermia delivery system. Real-time MR Thermometry imaging controls the focus and power output of the ultrasound beam, ensuring constant and uniform heating within the region of treatment.

user interface  
User interface of the MR thermometry-guided hyperthermia application, showing a temperature map overlaid on top of the coronal magnitude image (top-left), sagittal and axial navigator images with the phantom in a water bucket on top of the focused ultrasound transducer (top-right, bottom-left), and control panel with region of treatment shape selector (bottom-right).​

ROT Shapes
Examples of prescribed regions of treatment, and corresponding MR thermometry images, acquired during the heating.​

temperature plot
Plot of the temperature values within cells of the ROT (multiple colors) and mean temperature of the whole ROT (black) for the square heating pattern.

  • We have implemented a real-time MR thermometry-guided system for hyperthermia delivery within constrained regions with the ExAblate prostate array and validated it in phantom experiments.
  • Future work includes implementation of faster accelerated imaging, investigation of heating complex 3D regions, and in-vivo validation.


  • Ozhinsky E, Salgaonkar VA, Diederich CJ Rieke V. MR Thermometry-guided Prostate Hyperthermia with Real-time Ultrasound Beamforming and Power Control
    The 16th International Symposium on Therapeutic Ultrasound, Tel Aviv, Israel, March 2016
    ISMRM 24rd Annual Meeting in Singapore, May 2016
  • Ozhinsky E, Salgaonkar VA, Diederich CJ Rieke V. MR Thermometry-guided Ultrasound Hyperthermia of User-Defined Regions Using the ExAblate Prostate Ablation Array. ISMRM 25th Annual Meeting in Honolulu, HI, April 2017

Focused Ultrasound Lab Researchers

Associate Professor
Chair, Diversity Committee
Co-Director of Focused Ultrasound
Associate Chair of Wellbeing and Professional Climate
Associate Professor In Res.
Associate Professor
Assistant Adjunct Professor