Measurement of thermal and ultrasonic properties of some biological tissues

J Med Eng Technol. 2009;33(3):249-56. doi: 10.1080/03091900802451265.


The measurement of thermal and ultrasonic properties of biological tissues is essential for the assessment of the temperature rise induced in vivo by diagnostic ultrasound. In this paper, we present measurements of thermal conductivity, thermal diffusivity, speed of sound and ultrasonic attenuation of fresh ex vivo porcine tissue, namely 'muscle' (from abdomen and leg), 'skin with subcutaneous fat' (from abdomen and leg), 'abdominal fat' and 'bone'. The measurements of the thermal properties of biological tissue samples are based on a transient method. Thermal property measurements show that subcutaneous fat has the lowest thermal conductivity (0.23 W m(-1) K(-1)), while muscle gives the highest values (0.46 W m(-1) K(-1)). Thermal diffusivity of muscle tissue recorded the highest value among the studied tissues (0.16 mm(2) s(-1)) while that of skin with subcutaneous fat gave the lowest value (0.11 mm(2) s(-1)). A scanning acoustic macroscope was used to measure attenuation coefficient and speed of sound for the tissue samples. The results for the speed of sound are broadly similar to those reported in the literature. The power law dependence of the attenuation coefficient of the form eta = a f (b) as a function of frequency was found to be more appropriate than the linear fit in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Equipment Design
  • Linear Models
  • Microscopy, Acoustic / methods
  • Muscles / diagnostic imaging
  • Sheep
  • Skin / diagnostic imaging
  • Subcutaneous Fat / diagnostic imaging
  • Swine
  • Temperature
  • Thermal Conductivity*
  • Thermal Diffusion*
  • Ultrasonics*