Alamance Urological now offers Prostate MRI Quantitative Image Analysis – VividLook is the definitive quantitative image analysis solution for prostate DCE MRI. VividLook provides objective, consistent quantitative image analysis for cancer detection, localization, staging, treatment planning, and serial monitoring. An advanced pharmacokinetic model assesses changes in signal intensity to calculate numerical values of key physiological parameters that allow the radiologist to discern biological processes taking place in malignant versus benign tumors.

HIFU or High Intensity Focused Ultrasound uses sound waves or ultrasound to destroy cancer in the prostate. To find out if you are eligible for HIFU, please fill out our form online and we’ll contact you immediately.

HIFU Patient Information Video from on

What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men and the third leading cause of male

Known risk factors include age, race and family history:

African-American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than Caucasian or Asian men in the U.S.

Many physicians, as well as the American Cancer Society, recommend that all men over the age of 40 have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test regularly.

Prostate Cancer Treatments

There are numerous treatment options for prostate cancer once a physician makes definitive diagnosis. Each treatment has benefits and drawbacks. Together, patients and their physicians need to weigh all the factors as they search for the best treatment option. Age, Gleason score (measures the cancers aggressiveness), PSA, lifestyle and quality of life issues all play a very important role in identifying the optimal treatment.


High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

A Revolutionary Prostate Cancer Solution

HIFU is a precise and targeted therapy that reduces the risk of complications caused by surgery and radiation.


HIFU uses ultrasound energy, or sound waves, to heat and destroy specifically targeted areas of tissue. During HIFU, the sound waves pass through healthy tissue without causing damage. However, at the focal point of the sound waves (like a magnifying glass focusing the rays of the sun to burn a leaf), the tissue temperature rises to 90 degrees Celsius destroying the targeted tissue.

HIFU has distinct therapeutic advantages over traditional prostate cancer therapies.

  • Takes only one to three hours
  • Performed as an out-patient procedure under a spinal (epidural) anesthesia
  • Recovery time is minimal
  • Patients are usually up and walking around within hours after the procedure and may return to a normal lifestyle within a couple of days
  • A catheter is inserted during the procedure and usually worn for one to three weeks
  • HIFU results in very low rates of both impotence and incontinence


Sonablate® HIFU – A Safer Prostate Cancer Solution


The Sonablate® 500 is a non-invasive medical device, developed by Focus Surgery, Inc., that uses HIFU to treat prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Precise and Controlled

The Sonablate® obtains real-time images of the prostate and surrounding areas. From these images, the doctor plans where the HIFU will be delivered. Sonablate® software allows the surgeon to customize six different zones in order to safely ablate the entire gland.

The control and precision of HIFU means patients only require one HIFU session and the risk of common side effects such as impotence and incontinence are much lower than other therapies.

A Sonablate® HIFU procedure takes one to three hours and is done under a spinal (epidural) anesthesia on an out-patient basis.

Unlike radiation, HIFU is non-ionizing so it can be repeated, if necessary, without damaging healthy tissue. This means that HIFU can also be used as a salvage technique if other prostate cancer treatments fail.

The Sonablate® is the only truly non-invasive prostate cancer therapy that does not require a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), an invasive, surgical procedure, prior to HIFU in order to achieve effective results.

Benefits of HIFU

The Sonablate® 500 HIFU has significant benefits over other prostate cancer therapies:

  • HIFU is “clean” energy – the patient is not exposed to radiation that might weaken or damage cells and tissue surrounding the prostate
  • HIFU is a non-surgical – causing minimal blood loss and is less invasive than other treatments
  • HIFU is preformed under spinal (epidural) anesthesia – eliminating risk associated with general anesthesia
  • HIFU is an out-patient procedure; no overnight hospital stay is required
  • HIFU can be repeated, if necessary
  • After HIFU, if needed, patients may pursue other treatment options (radiation, cryotherapy, surgery etc)
  • HIFU may be used as a salvage treatment for local prostate cancer recurrence
  • HIFU preserves patient quality of life by minimizing side effects such as impotence and incontinence




Who is a Candidate for HIFU with the Sonablate® 500?

Primary Diagnosis

Sonablate® HIFU is most effective for men who have early stage, localized prostate cancer that has not spread or metastasized outside the prostate. However, it is recommended that you discuss your individual medical records and history with a physician in order to confirm whether or not you are a candidate for HIFU.

Recurrent Prostate Cancer

Many patients who have had radiation therapy, brachytherapy or external beam radiation and experience a rise in PSA have discovered that the cancer is back. These patients may be candidates for HIFU as well, as long as the cancer has not spread to the bone or other organs.

Additionally, patients who have a local recurrence after receiving a radical prostatectomy may qualify for HIFU.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. How long has Sonablate® HIFU it been done? Where?

HIFU was originally researched in the United States almost 50 years ago. Focus Surgery, Inc., the developers of Sonablate®, introduced the first application for prostate disease in the early 1990s with the Sonablate® 200. Worldwide, over 15,000 treatments have been done with the Sonablate®.

2. Is it a one time procedure or do I have to return for multiple procedures?

HIFU with the Sonablate® 500 is a one time procedure that lasts approximately 1-3 hours. It is considered an out-patient procedure meaning that the patient can be discharged after he or she has recovered from the anesthesia.

3. What should I expect after I have HIFU?

Because Sonablate® HIFU is a minimally invasive procedure it has minimal side effects. During the first one to two weeks after the procedure, a patient may experience very mild urinary symptoms such as frequency and/or urgency to void. In the first one to two months, a patient may pass an occasional small amount of blood or mucus-like materials which is normal. A urinary catheter is inserted after he procedure and must be kept in place for 2-3 weeks.

4. Is this a type of radiation like brachytherapy? Which one is a better minimally invasive procedure?

HIFU is completely radiation free. Unlike radiation, ultrasound energy is non-ionizing meaning it will not harm any tissue outside of the targeted area. Although both brachytherapy and HIFU are both considered minimally invasive, HIFU only requires one treatment.

5. During HIFU is the entire prostate destroyed or does the doctor only target the tumor or diseased area?

During the HIFU procedure the entire prostate gland will be ablated or destroyed. Because it can be very difficult to determine the exact location of the cancer or tumor within the prostate, the Sonablate® 500 is programmed to treat the entire prostate gland. This also minimizes the chance for recurrence.

6. How do I know if I am a candidate for HIFU? What are the qualifications?

Like most prostate cancer treatments, there is an ideal candidate for HIFU. HIFU is most effective for patients with early-stage prostate cancer where the cancer is localized to the prostate. It is recommended that you discuss your individual medical records and history with a HIFU physician in order to confirm whether or not you are a candidate for HIFU.

7. Is this procedure repeatable?

Yes, HIFU with the Sonablate® 500 can be repeated if necessary. In most cases, Sonablate® HIFU is a one-time procedure, however, unlike radiation, it will not prevent patients from having other treatments (radiation, cryotherapy etc) if needed.

8. What happens to the urethra during HIFU? Since it runs through the center of the prostate is it destroyed during the procedure?

During HIFU, the entire prostate is ablated, including the prostatic urethra. However, the urethra is derived from a different type of tissue (bladder squamous-type epithelium) rather than prostatic tissue (glandular, fibrotic and muscular) and does regenerate with time.

While the urethra is an important anatomical structure, the sphincter and bladder neck are more important to maintaining the urinary function. During HIFU the sphincter and bladder neck are identified and avoided.

9. How long will I have to stay in the hospital?

HIFU is an out-patient procedure and does not normally require any hospital stay. The procedure usually takes 1-3 hours and recovery time is 2-3 hours. After recovery, the patient is discharged.

10. Where is the procedure available?

Sonablate® was cleared by the FDA in October of  2015 and is available in North Carolina through HIFU Prostate Services at a HIFU Center of Excellence. To find out more about scheduling a treatment call 1-877-884-HIFU (4438) or visit

11. Where can I have HIFU treatment and where will I stay?

HIFU treatment is recommended at the following locations. To learn more about each location, just click on the link for a pdf file.

Charlotte, NC

Other Treatment Options

Radical Prostatectomy

A radical prostatectomy surgically removes the entire prostate gland and some of the tissue around it.

  • Done by open surgery (usually takes two hours) or laparoscopic surgery (may take up to eight hours)
  • Usually preformed under general anesthesia
  • Requires a hospital stay
  • A catheter is worn after the procedure for up to three weeks
  • Full recovery and mobility can take up to eight weeks
  • High rates of Impotence rates due to nerve damage during surgery
  • High incontinence rate due to damage to sphincter and bladder neck


Radiation Therapy

There are two primary types of radiation therapy: External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) and Brachytherapy or seed implants.

EBRT is usually recommended for men with a prostate volume less than 60 grams, it involves four to six weeks of radiation directed at the cancer from outside of the body.

Radiation in brachytherapy is transmitted by tiny radioactive pellets placed inside the prostate

Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy, which reduces the amount of testosterone in the bloodstream depriving the prostate tumor of a necessary stimulus, has been shown in clinical trials to extend life and slow the progression of the disease. A major drawback is that nearly all prostate cancers treated with hormone therapy become resistant to this treatment over a period of months or years.

Possible side effects of hormone therapy include

  • Hot flashes
  • Breast tenderness and growth of breast tissue
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anemia
  • Decreased mental acuity
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Decrease in HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Depression


Cryotherapy, also known as cryosurgery or cryoablation, is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves freezing the cells in the prostate to destroy or eliminate the prostate. Cryotherapy begins with an infusion of toxic argon gas that results in cellular destruction of the prostate. The infusion of argon gas is immediately followed by an infusion of helium to essentially thaw the tissue. This cycle is repeated twice to achieve cancer cell destruction.

A catheter is inserted after the procedure and worn for two to three weeks and it may requires an overnight hospital stay.

Cryotherapy also has a high risk of impotence & incontinence