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Learn about surgery uses ultrasound waves instead of scalpels


Thunder Bay, ON  -----   February  20, 2010 -–Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Thunder surgery uses ultrasound waves instead of scalpelsBay Regional Research Institute and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre have launched a dual-site Centre that stands to revolutionize surgery.

Teams of clinicians and scientists at both sites are pioneering new methods of caring for patients who have complex health concerns and would benefit greatly from surgery but in many cases, traditional operations pose high risks due to the delicate area of where the intervention would have to occur. With MRI-guided, High Intensity Focused Ultrasound therapy (also referred to as HIFU), many of these risks can be overcome by the simple fact that the procedures are performed without making a single surgical incision.

To learn more about it the public is invited to Northern Cancer Question & Answer public speaker series!





 Learn about High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and meet our world-class scientists Dr. Laura Curiel and Dr. Ingeborg Zehbe from Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute (TBRRI) who will explain how the procedure works without a single incision. Find out how patients in the Northwest will benefit Date:  Tuesday, February 22th, 2011
Time: 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Place:  Auditorium A, 3rd Floor, TBRHSC

Admission, refreshments and parking are free. No pre- registration is required. Everyone is welcome. For more information, contact: Regional Cancer Care Education at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (807) 684-7237.


More about HIFU:
In the centre’s first clinical trial for this approach, teams are testing the safety and effectiveness of the procedure to treat uterine fibroids. These non-cancerous tumours are most often found in women. While most fibroids are asymptomatic, they can grow and cause heavy and painful menstruation, painful sexual intercourse, and urinary frequency and urgency.

Current treatment options for uterine fibroids involve traditional surgery but with this new approach, fibroids can be eradicated with heat generated from a HIFU procedure, which is guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Early results from trials at the Centre have shown the treatment to be highly effective with minimal side effects.

Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of imaging research at Sunnybrook Research Institute, pioneered the MRI-guided HIFU technology that is at the core of the centre. He is a co-investigator on the trial at Sunnybrook. Dr. Elizabeth David (title pending) is the principal investigator of the trial in Toronto.Dr. Laura Curiel leads the research on MRI-guided HIFU at Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute; the clinical leads there are Dr. Neety Panu, Lead Radiologist at the Linda Buchan Centre located at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) and Dr. Andrew Siren, Obstetrician and Gynecologist at TBRHSC. Future trials will be run by clinicians in Toronto and in Thunder Bay.

”These clinical trials are significant both in future treatment availability in Canada, and in informing our imminent work in the new year on the non-invasive treatment of patients diagnosed with cancers involving bone metastases, and in the longer term with patients diagnosed with prostate, liver and possibly breast cancers,” says Dr. Hynynen, a Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto.

 “Partnerships are fundamental to the success of this pivotal HIFU study. It is the first in the combined history of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Sunnybrook Research Institute. Our dual HIFU sites are shared, offering better access in both Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario, allowing more patients to receive improved care, much closer to home,” says Michael Power, CEO of Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, Vice President Cancer and Diagnostic Services,
TBRHSC, and Regional Vice President Cancer Care Ontario in the Northwest.

There are a number of industry and government partners who have come together to make the dual site Centre with Thunder Bay and Sunnybrook a reality.  The technology being used is the Philips Healthcare’s Sonalleve MRI-guided HIFU system that features a unique volume-based thermal mapping process to produce a more focused and powerful beam. Funding from FedNor, NSERC - Discovery Grant for HIFU Guidance, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation – ORF grant and Philips Healthcare have been fundamental to the success of this leading-edge procedure. At Sunnybrook, the HIFU surgery centre is part of the Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics, funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation.


Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute
TBRRI is an independent, not-for-profit research corporation partnered closely with Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  Scientists and clinicians work together with academic and industry partners to bring advanced diagnostic technology to our patients.

World-class research is conducted under three platforms: Advanced Detection Devices, Imaging Guided Interventions and Probe Development and Biomarker Exploration.  TBRRI strives to improve the quality of patient-centred healthcare by advancing new standards of excellence in the clinical investigation of novel molecular imaging-based diagnostic technologies. For further information, please visit our website at

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