MRI-guided gas bubble enhanced ultrasound heating in in vivo rabbit thigh

Phys Med Biol. 2003 Jan 21;48(2):223-41. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/48/2/306.


In this study, we propose a focused ultrasound surgery protocol that induces and then uses gas bubbles at the focus to enhance the ultrasound absorption and ultimately create larger lesions in vivo. MRI and ultrasound visualization and monitoring methods for this heating method are also investigated. Larger lesions created with a carefully monitored single ultrasound exposure could greatly improve the speed of tumour coagulation with focused ultrasound. All experiments were performed under MRI (clinical, 1.5 T) guidance with one of two eight-sector, spherically curved piezoelectric transducers. The transducer, either a 1.1 or 1.7 MHz array, was driven by a multi-channel RF driving system. The transducer was mounted in an MRI-compatible manual positioning system and the rabbit was situated on top of the system. An ultrasound detector ring was fixed with the therapy transducer to monitor gas bubble activity during treatment. Focused ultrasound surgery exposures were delivered to the thighs of seven New Zealand while rabbits. The experimental, gas-bubble-enhanced heating exposures consisted of a high amplitude 300 acoustic watt, half second pulse followed by a 7 W, 14 W or 21 W continuous wave exposure for 19.5 s. The respective control sonications were 20 s exposures of 14 W, 21 W and 28 W. During the exposures, MR thermometry was obtained from the temperature dependency of the proton resonance frequency shift. MRT2-enhanced imaging was used to evaluate the resulting lesions. Specific metrics were used to evaluate the differences between the gas-bubble-enhanced exposures and their respective control sonications: temperatures with respect to time and space, lesion size and shape, and their agreement with thermal dose predictions. The bubble-enhanced exposures showed a faster temperature rise within the first 4 s and higher overall temperatures than the sonications without bubble formation. The spatial temperature maps and the thermal dose maps derived from the MRI thermometry closely correlated with the resulting lesion as examined by T2-weighted imaging. The lesions created with the gas-bubble-enhanced heating exposures were 2-3 times larger by volume, consistently more spherical in shape and closer to the transducer than the control exposures. The study demonstrates that gas bubbles can reliably be used to create significantly larger lesions in vivo. MRI thermometry techniques were successfully used to monitor the thermal effects mediated by the bubble-enhanced exposures.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Adipose Tissue / radiation effects
  • Animals
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Body Temperature / radiation effects
  • Connective Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Connective Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Connective Tissue / physiology
  • Connective Tissue / radiation effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Equipment Design
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gases
  • High-Energy Shock Waves / therapeutic use
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / radiation effects
  • Rabbits
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin / anatomy & histology
  • Skin / diagnostic imaging
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Sonication / instrumentation*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Thermography / methods
  • Thigh / anatomy & histology
  • Thigh / diagnostic imaging
  • Thigh / physiology
  • Thigh / radiation effects*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods
  • Ultrasonography


  • Gases