Renal sympathetic denervation using MR-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound in a porcine model

Matthias Koopmann, Jill Shea, Eugene Kholmovski, Joshua de Bever, Emilee Minalga, Matthew Holbrook, Robb Merrill, J. Rock Hadley, Theophilus Owan, Mohamed E. Salama, Nassir F. Marrouche, Allison Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Initial catheter-based renal sympathetic denervation (RSD) studies demonstrated promising results in showing a significant reduction of blood pressure, while recent data were less successful. As an alternative approach, the objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using magnetic resonance-guided high-intensity focused ultrasound (MRgHIFU) to perform RSD in a porcine model. Methods: An intravascular fiber optic temperature probe was used to confirm energy delivery during MRgHIFU. This technique was evaluated both in a vascular phantom and in a normotensive pig model. Five animals underwent unilateral RSD using MRgHIFU, and both safety and efficacy were assessed. MRI was used to evaluate the acoustic window, target sonications, monitor the near-field treatment region using MR thermometry imaging, and assess the status of tissues post-procedure. An intravascular fiber optic temperature probe verified energy delivery. Animals were sacrificed 6 to 9 days post-treatment, and pathological analysis was performed. The norepinephrine present in the kidney medulla was assessed post-mortem. Results: All animals tolerated the procedure well with no observed complications. The fiber optic temperature probe placed in the target renal artery confirmed energy delivery during MRgHIFU, measuring larger temperature rises when the MRgHIFU beam location was focused closer to the tip of the probe. Following ablation, a significant reduction (p = 0.04) of cross-sectional area of nerve bundles between the treated and untreated renal arteries was observed in all of the animals with treated nerves presenting increased cellular infiltrate and fibrosis. A reduction of norepinephrine (p = 0.14) in the kidney medulla tissue was also observed. There was no indication of tissue damage in arterial walls. Conclusions: Performing renal denervation non-invasively with MRgHIFU was shown to be both safe and effective as determined by norepinephrine levels in a porcine model. This approach may be a promising alternative to catheter-based strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalJournal of Therapeutic Ultrasound
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • High-intensity focused ultrasound
  • MRI
  • Renal sympathetic denervation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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