CRNA Team Provides Anesthesia Care for First High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) Procedure in U.S.

  • Dec 4, 2015

For Immediate Release:  December 4, 2015    
For More Information Contact:  Cathryn Hodson
Park Ridge, Illinois – A minimally invasive procedure that uses high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) technology to eradicate early stage prostate cancer was conducted for the first time in the United States in early November, with the patient’s anesthesia care provided by two Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs).
The team of Debra Barber, CRNA, DNP, and Lara Barrow, CRNA, MHS, said it was an honor and a thrill to play a key role in the groundbreaking procedure. Barrow said, “This case was an excellent example of the direction in which healthcare–and anesthesia–are headed, using highly qualified, assured CRNAs to safely deliver anesthesia care whenever and wherever it is needed.”
Although HIFU has been used for the ablation of prostate tissue in cancer patients for many years outside the United States, the system was just approved by the FDA in October of this year.
 “There was general training for the OR staff, and then more specialized considerations presented for anesthesia by the system’s manufacturer,” said Barber. “We had to choose between using an endotracheal tube (ETT) or laryngeal mask airway (LMA). The patient’s legs were to be raised, and the surgeon wanted no movement. For that reason we used ETT, which allows us to provide the administration of drugs that will prevent movement.”
The HIFU system uses highly focused sound waves to pinpoint and burn cancerous cells found in a patient’s prostate, leaving surrounding tissue untouched and unaffected, which also shortens recovery time. The new procedure helps avoid two conditions that can result from traditional options—the loss of bladder control and erectile dysfunction.
Ordinarily, an MRI or similar imaging system is used in conjunction with the HIFU system to aid the surgeons in viewing the affected area. “There was no MRI used in this case, but an imaging system was used,” said Barber. “There was a screen, and a camera was on the probe used to map the prostate.”
CRNAs are highly qualified to administer anesthesia for this type of groundbreaking surgery. For Barber, this wasn’t the first time she has provided anesthesia for a cutting edge medical procedure. She participated in the first, and several subsequent, artificial heart transplants.
Advantages of the HIFU system include offering more options for prostate cancer patients. If radiation or chemotherapy is unsuccessful, HIFU remains an option. Conversely, should the HIFU not be successful, traditional treatment methods would still be available to the patient.
About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists