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Thermal Treatment Systems with Acoustic Monitoring and Associated Methods

Thermal treatment systems are used, for example, to ablate liver metastatic tumors, treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, ablate cardiac tissue for the prevention of arrhythmia, heat corneal tissue to correct myopia, treat urinary incontinence, treat sleep apnea and snoring, tighten ligaments within the joints, tighten collagen for cosmetic purposes, occlude the Fallopian tubes and for other therapeutic purposes.

Despite a vast array of systems for treating different types of tissue, there are relatively few systems that are capable of monitoring procedures non-invasively and in real-time. Systems capable of non-invasive monitoring typically utilize near-infrared tomography, birefringence techniques, electrical impedance imaging or permittivity imaging. However, most of these techniques require several seconds or minutes to create an image, which is typically too long for real-time monitoring.

Dartmouth inventors have developed systems and methods that invoke detection of acoustic pressure waves, formed for example by thermal expansion of liquid in heated tissue, to observe changes in tissue composition in real-time. The systems can operate in transmissive or reflective modes, and may incorporate feedback loops that enable automatic shut-off upon detection of a desired result. Various types of acoustic sensors may be employed in the disclosed systems. For example, fiber optic sensors that eliminate electrical interference may be manufactured in various sizes to accommodate specific system requirements.

This technology is claimed in the published PCT Application No. PCT/US2008/062499 and in the published United States Patent Application No. 11/932,821. We are seeking an industrial partner interested in its commercialization. (Ref: J397)

Last Updated: 7/24/12