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      High-intensity focused ultrasound ablation enhancement in vivo via phase-shift nanodroplets compared to microbubbles

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          During high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) surgical procedures, there is a need to rapidly ablate pathological tissue while minimizing damage to healthy tissue. Current techniques are limited by relatively long procedure times and risks of off-target heating of healthy tissue. One possible solution is the use of microbubbles, which can improve the efficiency of thermal energy delivery during HIFU procedures. However, microbubbles also suffer from limitations such as low spatial selectivity and short circulation time in vivo. In this study, the use of a dual-perfluorocarbon nanodroplet that can enhance thermal ablation, yet retains high spatial selectivity and circulation half-life, was evaluated in vivo and compared to traditional microbubble agents during HIFU ablations of rat liver.


          High-intensity focused ultrasound (1.1 MHz, 4.1 MPa, 15-s continuous wave) was applied to rat liver in vivo, and heating was monitored during sonication by magnetic resonance thermometry. Thermometry data were analyzed to quantify temperature rise and ablated area, both at the target and prefocally, for HIFU applied 5, 15, or 95 min after intravenous injection of either nanodroplet or microbubble agents. Sham control experiments (no injected agents) were also performed.


          At all three time points, nanodroplets significantly enhanced thermal delivery to the target, achieving temperatures 130 % higher and ablated areas 30 times larger than no-agent control sonications. Nanodroplets did not significantly enhance off-target surface heating. Microbubbles also resulted in significantly greater thermal delivery, but heating was concentrated at the proximal surface of the animal, causing skin burns. Furthermore, microbubbles resulted in lower thermal delivery to the desired target than even the control case, with the notable exception of the 95-min time point.


          Results indicate that the nanodroplet formulation studied here can substantially increase thermal delivery at the acoustic focus while avoiding prefocal heating. In contrast, microbubbles resulted in greater prefocal heating and less heating at the target. Furthermore, nanodroplets are sufficiently stable to enhance HIFU ablation in vivo for at least 1.5 h after injection. The use of a dual-perfluorocarbon nanodroplet formulation as described herein could substantially reduce HIFU procedure times without increasing the risk of skin burns.

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          Phagocytosis of ultrasound contrast agent microbubbles by Kupffer cells.

          Delayed parenchymal phase images of the liver more than 5 min after IV injection of ultrasound contrast agents are thought to be related to the phagocytosis of contrast agent microbubbles by macrophages. In this study, we examined whether liver-specific macrophages, Kupffer cells, phagocytosed the microbubbles and whether their elimination affected the delayed parenchymal images of the liver. Phase-contrast microscope observations showed that Kupffer cells phagocytosed various contrast agents in vitro. Among the contrast agents used, 99% of Sonazoid and Optison, and 47% of Levovist were phagocytosed, whereas only 7.3% of SonoVue and 0% of Imavist were phagocytosed. Elimination of Kupffer cells in vivo by gadolinium chloride (GdCl(3)) resulted in decreased intensity of the delayed parenchymal images with Sonazoid and Levovist, while SonoVue showed no changes compared with control. Our findings suggested that Kupffer cells phagocytosed contrast agents and they were responsible for the delayed images of contrast ultrasound in the liver.
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            Focused ultrasound surgery in oncology: overview and principles.

            Focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) is a noninvasive image-guided therapy and an alternative to surgical interventions. It presents an opportunity to revolutionize cancer therapy and to affect or change drug delivery of therapeutic agents in new focally targeted ways. In this article the background, principles, technical devices, and clinical cancer applications of image-guided FUS are reviewed. © RSNA, 2011.
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              Formulation and acoustic studies of a new phase-shift agent for diagnostic and therapeutic ultrasound.

              Recent efforts in the area of acoustic droplet vaporization with the objective of designing extravascular ultrasound contrast agents has led to the development of stabilized, lipid-encapsulated nanodroplets of the highly volatile compound decafluorobutane (DFB). We developed two methods of generating DFB droplets, the first of which involves condensing DFB gas (boiling point from -1.1 to -2 °C) followed by extrusion with a lipid formulation in HEPES buffer. Acoustic droplet vaporization of micrometer-sized lipid-coated droplets at diagnostic ultrasound frequencies and mechanical indices were confirmed optically. In our second formulation methodology, we demonstrate the formulation of submicrometer-sized lipid-coated nanodroplets based upon condensation of preformed microbubbles containing DFB. The droplets are routinely in the 200-300 nm range and yield microbubbles on the order of 1-5 μm once vaporized, consistent with ideal gas law expansion predictions. The simple and effective nature of this methodology allows for the development of a variety of different formulations that can be used for imaging, drug and gene delivery, and therapy. This study is the first to our knowledge to demonstrate both a method of generating ADV agents by microbubble condensation and formulation of primarily submicrometer droplets of decafluorobutane that remain stable at physiological temperatures. Finally, activation of DFB nanodroplets is demonstrated using pressures within the FDA guidelines for diagnostic imaging, which may minimize the potential for bioeffects in humans. This methodology offers a new means of developing extravascular contrast agents for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. © 2011 American Chemical Society

                Author and article information

                J Ther Ultrasound
                J Ther Ultrasound
                Journal of Therapeutic Ultrasound
                BioMed Central (London )
                27 May 2015
                27 May 2015
                : 3
                [ ]Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and NC State University Campus, Box 7575, Chapel Hill, NC 27599 USA
                [ ]Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Box 800759, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908 USA
                [ ]Department of Radiology and Medical Imaging, University of Virginia, Box 801339, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908 USA
                © Moyer et al. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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