RadNet’s Liberty Pacific Advanced Imaging West Hills, an outpatient facility near West Hills Hospital, is the first site on the West Coast to perform a breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer.Radnet initially installed the Tulsa-Pro system at the beginning of last year, but wasn’t able to bring in the first patient for treatment until November due to the pandemic.The Tulsa device, cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in August 2019, uses magnetic resonance imaging hardware and thermal ultrasound technology to kill cancer cells, while a patient is in an MRI room.“It’s a high-intensity, focused ultrasound device designed to heat the gland to kill the tumor cells; it’s designed to cook it from the inside out,” said Dr. Bob Princenthal, radiologist and medical director for Radnet’s Prostate Imaging Program. “There’s an applicator that’s inserted into the urethra and passed into the bladder, then the ultrasound energy is delivered directly to the prostate tissue, unlike other forms of focal therapy where it’s delivered externally through the rectum.”Laser focal therapy, radiotherapy and robotic prostate surgery are other options available to prostate cancer patients, but they carry more risk, and more recovery time, Princenthal said.“Many men are afraid to get treated due to the side effects, and we think this is a game changer,” Princenthal added. Other therapies increase the risk of damage to the bladder, rectum and sexual function.“The beauty of the Tulsa device is we can actively contour and we know exactly how far the heat is going to dissipate, so we can provide a higher degree of control and safety,” the radiologist said. “We can do it in two to three hours instead of daily for four to six weeks with radiotherapy. … It’s an incision-free, outpatient procedure; (they) get here in the morning and are home by 2.”The catch, Princenthal said, is cost. Only a handful of prostate cancer patients have undergone the newly approved $30,000 treatment, which is not covered by insurance.
Doctors in the field are seeking partial reimbursement for now, with full reimbursement in one to two years, once more data can be presented to carriers.The device, developed by Canadian medical device manufacturer Profound Medical Corp., has been on the market for a year-and-a-half, fresh off a two-year trial involving sites in Finland, Holland, Germany, Canada and the U.S.RadNet plans to expand its Tulsa treatment to include sites in Orange County, West Los Angeles and Phoenix. The L.A.-based radiology center chain operates its West Hills location through a joint venture with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.In addition to its West Hills location, L.A.-based RadNet has Valley clinics in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Tarzana and Northridge as well as in Santa Clarita.