Ultrasound microbubble contrast and current clinical applications

Recent Pat Cardiovasc Drug Discov. 2011 Jan;6(1):27-41. doi: 10.2174/157489011794578446.


Ultrasound imaging is widely used worldwide principally because it is cheap, easily available and contains no exposure to ionizing radiation. The advent of microbubble ultrasound contrast has further increased the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of this technique thus widening its clinical applications. The third generation of ultrasound contrast agents consist of sulphur hexafluoride microbubbles encased in a phospholipid shell. This review will elaborate on the pharmacology, safety profile and method of action of these agents. We also aim to discuss the ever expanding uses for contrast enhanced ultrasound in a number of clinical specialities which include the liver, kidney, prostate, sentinel node detection, vascular tree and endovascular stent surveillance. We will also discuss some of the recent patents regarding the future uses of ultrasound microbubble contrast and recent technological advances in clinical applications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media* / adverse effects
  • Contrast Media* / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Microbubbles*
  • Phospholipids* / adverse effects
  • Phospholipids* / pharmacokinetics
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride* / adverse effects
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride* / pharmacokinetics
  • Ultrasonography / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Phospholipids
  • Sulfur Hexafluoride