20 years of ultrasound contrast agent modeling

IEEE Trans Ultrason Ferroelectr Freq Control. 2013 Jan;60(1):7-20. doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2013.2533.


The merits of ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) were already known in the 1960s. It was, however, not until the 1990s that UCAs were clinically approved and marketed. In these years, it was realized that the UCAs are not just efficient ultrasound scatterers, but that their main constituent, the coated gas microbubble, acts as a nonlinear resonator and, as such, is capable of generating harmonic energy. Subharmonic, ultraharmonic, and higher harmonic frequencies of the transmitted ultrasound frequency have been reported. This opened up new prospects for their use and several detection strategies have been developed to exploit this harmonic energy to discriminate the contrast bubbles from surrounding tissue. This insight created a need for tools to study coated bubble behavior in an ultrasound field and the first models were developed. Since then, 20 years have elapsed, in which a broad range of UCAs and UCA models have been developed. Although the models have helped in understanding the responses of coated bubbles, the influence of the coating has not been fully elucidated to date and UCA models are still being improved. The aim of this review paper is to offer an overview in these developments and indicate future directions for research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Microbubbles*
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Ultrasonography / trends


  • Contrast Media