Magnetic Resonance–Guided High-Intensity-Focused Ultrasound for Palliation of Painful Skeletal Metastases: A Pilot Study

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Bone is one of the most common sites of metastases, with bone metastases-related pain representing a significant source of morbidity among patients with cancer. Magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound is a noninvasive, outpatient modality with the potential for treating painful bone metastases. The aim of this study is to report our initial experience with magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound in the treatment of bone metastases and our preliminary analysis of urinary cytokine levels after therapy.


This was a single-center pilot study of 10 patients with metastatic cancer to investigate the feasibility of magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound for primary pain control in device-accessible skeletal metastases. Treatments were performed on a clinical magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound system using a volumetric ablation technique. Primary efficacy was assessed using Brief Pain Inventory scores and morphine equivalent daily dose intake at 3 time points: before, day 14, and day 30 after the magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound treatment. Urine cytokines were measured 3 days before treatment and 2 days after the treatment.


Of the 10 patients, 8 were followed up 14 days and 6 were followed up 30 days after the treatment. At day 14, 3 patients (37.5%) exhibited partial pain response and 4 patients (50%) exhibited an indeterminate response, and at day 30 after the treatment, 5 patients (83%) exhibited partial pain response. No treatment-related adverse events were recorded. Of the urine cytokines measured, only Transforming growth factor alpha (TGFα) demonstrated an overall decrease, with a trend toward statistical significance (P = .078).


Our study corroborates magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound as a feasible and safe modality as a primary, palliative treatment for painful bone metastases and contributes to the limited body of literature using magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound for this clinical indication.

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