Microbubbles and ultrasound: from diagnosis to therapy

Eur J Echocardiogr. 2004 Aug;5(4):245-56. doi: 10.1016/j.euje.2004.02.001.


The development of ultrasound contrast agents, containing encapsulated microbubbles, has increased the possibilities for diagnostic imaging. Ultrasound contrast agents are currently used to enhance left ventricular opacification, increase Doppler signal intensity, and in myocardial perfusion imaging. Diagnostic imaging with contrast agents is performed with low acoustic pressure using non-linear reflection of ultrasound waves by microbubbles. Ultrasound causes bubble destruction, which lowers the threshold for cavitation, resulting in microstreaming and increased permeability of cell membranes. Interestingly, this mechanism can be used for delivery of drugs or genes into tissue. Microbubbles have been shown to be capable of carrying drugs and genes, and destruction of the bubbles will result in local release of their contents. Recent studies demonstrated the potential of microbubbles and ultrasound in thrombolysis. In this article, we will review the recent advances of microbubbles as a vehicle for delivery of drugs and genes, and discuss possible therapeutic applications in thrombolysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Coronary Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronary Disease / therapy
  • Drug Carriers
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Microbubbles*
  • Microspheres
  • Thrombosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Thrombosis / therapy
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*


  • Contrast Media
  • Drug Carriers