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Frequently Asked Questions

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Technology

  • What is NC HIFU?
  • What is focused ultrasound?
  • What is the ultrasound technology that is used?
What is NC HIFU?

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) is a minimally invasive treatment option for men with early-stage prostate cancer. It is an outpatient procedure that uses sound waves to destroy the diseased areas of the prostate without using incisions or radiation.

What is focused ultrasound?

Focused ultrasound is a non-invasive technology that uses ultrasound waves of energy to target and treat diseased tissue within the body without incisions or radiation. Ultrasound technology has been used for over 70 years to treat other diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s tremors, thyroid and breast cancers as well as uterine fibroids and bone metastases. In October of 2105, the FDA cleared the focused ultrasound technology to ablate diseased prostate tissue. This non-invasive approach allows for faster recovery and reduced side effects. Please visit Focused Ultrasound Foundation, one of our trusted resources for more information or contact us.

What is the ultrasound technology that is used?

NCHIFU uses the Sonablate 500 technology. This is the first FDA-cleared high intensity focused ultrasound device for the ablation of diseased prostate tissue and is considered the most up-to date and advanced technology. Our Sonablate 500, purchased from SonaCare Medical, is a surgeon and computer controlled device designed for delivery of HIFU energy to the prostate for treatment of prostate cancer via thermal ablation. The advanced imaging technology allows for real-time treatment monitoring, treatment planning, and pre-and post-treatment imaging of the prostate. Please visit SonaCare Medical, one of our trusted resources for more information or contact us.


Procedure

  • Will I be under Anesthesia?
  • How long does the procedure take?
  • Will I have to have a catheter afterwards?
  • Where is the procedure performed?
  • How do I know if I’m a candidate for HIFU?
  • Who performs the procedure?
  • What are the side effects?
Will I be under Anesthesia?

Yes, you will be under general anesthesia for the entire procedure. You will not be able to feel pain during the procedure or remember the procedure afterwards. Your body’s vital functions will be monitored by a board-certified anesthesiologist during and after the procedure. At your HIFU consultation, the doctor will go over how to prepare for anesthesia and the procedure in detail. Please contact us if you have any questions.

How long does the procedure take?

The procedure will last anywhere between 1 – 4 hours. There are many factors that attribute to the length of the procedure, one of those factors being the size of the prostate. HIFU is an out-patient procedure and after recovering from anesthesia, you will be able to go home the same day.

Will I have to have a catheter afterwards?

Yes, a supra pubic catheter is left in place after your procedure. A catheter helps with draining urine after the procedure. The catheter is temporary and will be removed anywhere from 14 – 21 days after the procedure. You will be given one-on-one instructions on how to take care of your catheter as well as a detailed instruction sheet to reference as needed.

Where is the procedure performed?

HIFU is performed at the Rex Surgical Center of Cary in Cary, North Carolina. The facility is a fully-licensed ambulatory surgical center and is the only location in the Raleigh area where HIFU treatment for prostate cancer is offered. Please visit their website for more information and directions.

How do I know if I’m a candidate for HIFU?

As with many other cancer treatment options, there is an “ideal” candidate profile. Being diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer is one of many indications that you may be a candidate for HIFU. Please contact us if you would like to know more, have questions or would like to set up a consultation.

Who performs the procedure?

Dr. Frank Tortora, a board-certified Urologist and a named HIFU expert will be performing your HIFU procedure. He is a graduate of Yale University and Emory University School of Medicine. He completed a residency in urology at the University of North Carolina. He has practiced Urology in the Triangle since 1982. Dr. Tortora is one of only a few Urologists in North Carolina that perform and specialize in HIFU. He is well-known and respected in the HIFU and Urology community, and is the only provider of HIFU treatment in the Raleigh area. He has participated in over 100 cases, and independently performed more than 50 cases. He has been in practice for over 30 years, and performing HIFU for 10 years.

What are the side effects?

Although no prostate cancer treatments are without side effects, non-invasive HIFU treatment has shown to radically reduce the most commonly seen side effects. For example, over 95 percent of men who receive HIFU treatment were continent, and 70 – 80 percent of men were potent when compared with other treatment options. Dr. Tortora will be able to address these side effects and any other concerns you may have during your consultation. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to set up a consultation.


Pricing & Payment

  • How much is NC HIFU?
  • Are there financing options?
  • What methods of payment do you offer?
  • Is HIFU covered by my insurance?
How much is NC HIFU?

Currently, we have not seen any insurance plan (commercial or private) pay for HIFU. Typically, when a medical technology is first cleared by the FDA, insurance carriers will not pay for procedures using that technology. Once the FDA has sufficient evidence of measurable long-term effectiveness, usually between two and years after the initial FDA-clearance, insurance carriers will slowly start paying. However, at this point, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of payment. We like to explore all avenues respective to a patient’s individual insurance plan. One of those avenues is submitting a letter of pre-determination. This letter, submitted before surgery, will provide detailed medical information to the insurance company directly from Dr. Tortora. We are also able to assist in the appeal process for insurance reimbursement after your surgery. The HIFU procedure is $25,000.00. This price is all inclusive and we handle payment for anesthesia services as well as for facility fees. NC HIFU is modeled as a concierge service and we place great value on patient-centered care. Please contact us if you have questions or for more information.

Are there financing options?

Yes, NCHIFU is partnered with United Medical Credit, a patient financing company. Please visit their website to learn more and apply.

What methods of payment do you offer?

NCHIFU accepts the following payment methods: Cashiers or certified check. We are partnered with United Medical Credit, a patient financing company. Please visit their website to learn more and apply.

Is HIFU covered by my insurance?

Currently, we have not seen any insurance plan (commercial or private) pay for HIFU. Typically, when a medical technology is first cleared by the FDA, insurance carriers will not pay for procedures using that technology. Once the FDA has sufficient evidence of measurable long-term effectiveness, usually between two and years after the initial FDA-clearance, insurance carriers will slowly start paying. However, at this point, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of payment. We like to explore all avenues respective to a patient’s individual insurance plan. One of those avenues is submitting a letter of pre-determination. This letter, submitted before surgery, will provide detailed medical information to the insurance company directly from Dr. Tortora. Patients who choose to have the HIFU treatment pay out of pocket. On rare occasions, some insurances will issue reimbursement after the surgery; however, there is no guarantee of reimbursement. We are able to assist in the appeal process for insurance reimbursement after your surgery. Please contact us for more information.




Contact Us

Call now or send us a message to answer any HIFU-related questions, to learn more about the HIFU procedure, or to schedule a consultation at one of our practice locations.






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UroCare, PLLC offers competitive self-pay pricing for expert medical care and treatment options for a variety of male and female urological conditions.

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Call now or send us a message to answer any HIFU-related questions, to learn more about the HIFU procedure, or to schedule a consultation at one of our practice locations.

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Trusted Resources

  • SonaCare Medical
  • UNC REX Healthcare
  • United Medical Group
  • Focused Ultrasound Foundation
  • AUNC Urology
  • HIFU

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