Original Contribution| Volume 49, ISSUE 5, P1108-1117, May 2023

Vessel Rupture Thresholds for Vessel–Bubble Interactions Using an Earthworm Vasculature Model


      Intravenous microbubble oscillation in the presence of ultrasound has the potential to yield a wide range of therapeutic benefits. However, the likelihood of vessel damage caused by mechanical effects has not been quantified as a function of the numerous important parameters in therapeutic ultrasound procedures. In this study, we examined the effects of microbubbles injected into the vasculature of the earthworm. It was found that the elastic properties of earthworm blood vessels are similar to those of arteries in older humans, and that earthworms are well suited to the large number of experiments necessary to investigate safety of procedures involving microbubble oscillation in sonicated vessels.


      Microbubbles were infused into earthworm vessels, and the rupture time during sonication was recorded as a function of ultrasound frequency, pulse repetition frequency and acoustic pressure.


      A modified mechanical index (MMI) was defined that successfully captured the trends in rupture probability and rupture time for the different parameter values, creating a database of vessel rupture thresholds. In the absence of bubbles, the product of MMI squared and rupture time was approximately constant, indicating a possible radiation-force effect.


      The MMI was an effective correlating parameter in the presence of bubbles, though the mathematical dependence is not yet apparent. The results of the study are expected to be valuable in designing more refined studies in vertebrate models, as well as informing computational models.


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