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.
- Therapeutic ultrasound strategies that harness the mechanical activity of cavitation nuclei for beneficial tissue bio-effects are actively under development. The mechanical oscillations of circulating microbubbles, the most widely investigated cavitation nuclei, which may also encapsulate or shield a therapeutic agent in the bloodstream, trigger and promote localized uptake. Oscillating microbubbles can create stresses either on nearby tissue or in surrounding fluid to enhance drug penetration and efficacy in the brain, spinal cord, vasculature, immune system, biofilm or tumors.