The aim of this study was to test a prototype MRI-compatible focused ultrasound phased array system for trans-skull brain tissue ablation. Rabbit thigh muscle and brain were sonicated with a prototype, hemispherical 500-element ultrasound phased array operating at frequencies of 700-800 kHz. An ex vivo human skull sample was placed between the array and the animal tissue. The temperature elevation during 20-30-sec sonications was monitored using MRI thermometry. The induced focal lesions were observed in T2 and contrast-enhanced T1-weighted fast spin echo images. Whole brain histology evaluation was performed after the sonications. The results showed that sharp temperature elevations can be produced both in the thigh muscle and in the brain. High-power sonications (600-1080 W) produced peak temperatures up to 55 degrees C and focal lesions that were consistent with thermal tissue damage. The lesion size was found to increase with increasing peak temperature. The device was then modified to operate in the orientation that will be used in the clinic and successfully tested in phantom experiments. As a conclusion, this study demonstrates that it is possible to create ultrasound-induced lesions in vivo through a human skull under MRI guidance with this large-scale phased array.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.