Therapeutic applications of ultrasound

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2007 Jan-Apr;93(1-3):111-29. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2006.07.005. Epub 2006 Aug 4.


Therapeutic applications of ultrasound predate its use in imaging. A range of biological effects can be induced by ultrasound, depending on the exposure levels used. At low levels, beneficial, reversible cellular effects may be produced, whereas at high intensities instantaneous cell death is sought. Therapy ultrasound can therefore be broadly divided into "low power" and "high power" applications. The "low power" group includes physiotherapy, fracture repair, sonophoresis, sonoporation and gene therapy, whereas the most common use of "high power" ultrasound in medicine is probably now high intensity focused ultrasound. Therapeutic effect through the intensity spectrum is obtained by both thermal and non-thermal interaction mechanisms. At low intensities, acoustic streaming is likely to be significant, but at higher levels, heating and acoustic cavitation will predominate. While useful therapeutic effects are now being demonstrated clinically, the mechanisms by which they occur are often not well understood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fractures, Bone / therapy*
  • Genetic Therapy / instrumentation
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Genetic Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy / instrumentation
  • Lithotripsy / methods*
  • Lithotripsy / trends
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Phonophoresis / instrumentation
  • Phonophoresis / methods*
  • Phonophoresis / trends
  • Thrombosis / therapy*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / methods*
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / trends