With one in eight men affected before the age of seventy five, and 37,000 cases diagnosed in the UK each year, prostate cancer is by far the most common form of cancer affecting men today.
In what has been described as a 'paradigm shift' in the treatment of prostate cancer, the French company EDAP TMS, in collaboration with Inserm (French Institute of Medical Research), has developed the Ablatherm® High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), which enables a non-invasive treatment for prostate cancer. Unlike conventional methods, this procedure is free from any major side effects and studies have shown that 95% of men make a full recovery within a twelve month period.
Contributing to Ablatherm's® efficient system performance is the Reliance Cool Muscle intelligent actuator: an integrated drive and control instrument supplied by Reliance Precision Mechatronics.
The Reliance Cool Muscle actuator enables the Ablatherm® probe to create a 3D image of the prostate. Urologists then use a PC to identify the area damaged by lesions, and ultrasound waves destroy the affected area. Unlike radiation treatment, this procedure focuses specifically on the area concerned leaving surrounding tissue healthy and undamaged.
The probe is guided by Reliance's Cool Muscle technology and effects micron-point accuracy. Closed-loop control and a 50,000 count encoder facilitate precise execution of movement, torque and velocity. Reliability in positional accuracy and force are essential requirements for the Ablatherm® probe, and the constant feedback data provided by the Cool Muscle helps ensure the probe is positioned carefully and effectively during patient treatment.
The level of integration of the Reliance Cool Muscle actuator, incorporating motor, encoder, driver, controller and slide assembly, has also helped simplify the design and manufacture of the Ablatherm® instrument, enabling EDAP to focus resources on the development of their innovative ultrasound medical solution.
EDAP's Mechanical Design Manager stressed the importance not just of the functionality of the product, but of the design support provided by Reliance, remarking that: "they always help us with our selection of mechatronic components and their early involvement in the design stage is greatly appreciated". Reliance strive to provide in-depth technical support in the context of its customers' applications and engineering constraints, working responsively to adapt its products to suit individual requirements. This has led to a strong technical relationship between the companies with Reliance working closely with EDAP on the next generation of the groundbreaking Ablatherm® instrument.