A Special Collection of Papers from the 25th European Symposium on Ultrasound Contrast Imaging
- Ultrasound is extensively used in medical imaging, being safe and inexpensive and operating in real time. Its scope of applications has been widely broadened by the use of ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) in the form of microscopic bubbles coated by a biocompatible shell. Their increased use has motivated a large amount of research to understand and characterize their physical properties as well as their interaction with the ultrasound field and their surrounding environment. Here we review the theoretical models that have been proposed to study and predict the behavior of UCAs.
- Microbubble ultrasound contrast agents have now been in use for several decades and their safety and efficacy in a wide range of diagnostic applications have been well established. Recent progress in imaging technology is facilitating exciting developments in techniques such as molecular, 3-D and super resolution imaging and new agents are now being developed to meet their specific requirements. In parallel, there have been significant advances in the therapeutic applications of microbubbles, with recent clinical trials demonstrating drug delivery across the blood–brain barrier and into solid tumours.
- Initial reports from the 1960s describing the observations of ultrasound contrast enhancement by tiny gaseous bubbles during echocardiographic examinations prompted the development of the first ultrasound contrast agent in the 1980s. Current commercial contrast agents for echography, such as Definity, Optison, Sonazoid and SonoVue, have proven to be successful in a variety of on- and off-label clinical indications. Whereas contrast-specific technology has seen dramatic progress after the introduction of the first approved agents in the 1990s, successful clinical translation of new developments has been limited during the same period, while understanding of microbubble physical, chemical and biologic behavior has improved substantially.