Synopsis: Bubble trouble

Measurements of microbubbles in blood vessels under ultrasonic exposure show complex behavior that might relate to potential tissue damage.
Synopsis figure
Credit: Carin Cain

For decades, ultrasonic imaging has been used by doctors for purposes ranging from diagnosing heart problems to checking on the course of pregnancy. In recent years, clinicians have been using “contrast agents” that induce microbubble formation to improve the quality of the imaging, particularly for assessing tissues and blood vessels in the heart. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has raised concerns that these microbubbles may be causing damage. Writing in Physical Review Letters, Hong Chen and colleagues at the University of Washington, Seattle, in the US, report their efforts to study this problem by imaging how microbubbles behave in blood vessels under ultrasound exposure.

Chen et al. used rat abdominal tissue in saline solution, injected with lipid-coated microbubbles, as their model system. The researchers applied 1MHz ultrasound pulses while taking high-speed movies of the bubble-vessel interactions under a microscope. They found that the ultrasonically exposed bubbles would produce microjets and cause the blood vessel walls to bend inwards and outwards. According to the authors, this complex dynamic behavior depends sensitively on the viscoelastic properties of the tissue material and their observations provide a starting point for assessing ultrasonically induced microbubble damage. – David Voss


Announcements

More Announcements »

Subject Areas

Biological Physics

Previous Synopsis

Astrophysics

Better view of a merging pair

Read More »

Next Synopsis

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Less wiggle room for the gravitational constant

Read More »

Related Articles

Synopsis: Bacterial Superfluids
Fluid Dynamics

Synopsis: Bacterial Superfluids

Self-propelling bacteria can reduce the viscosity of a fluid to zero through a collective organization of their swimming. Read More »

Synopsis: Magnetic Carpet Ride
Magnetism

Synopsis: Magnetic Carpet Ride

Magnetic particles self-assemble into a sheet that can carry cells and other tiny cargo to a specific location. Read More »

Synopsis: Silent Flocks
Biological Physics

Synopsis: Silent Flocks

Flocking birds appear to communicate through collective waves, but these waves may not be able to travel in flocks of a certain size. Read More »

More Articles