Previous in vivo studies have demonstrated that microvessel hemorrhages and alterations of endothelial permeability can be produced in tissues containing microbubble-based ultrasound contrast agents when those tissues are exposed to MHz-frequency pulsed ultrasound of sufficient pressure amplitudes. The general hypothesis guiding this research was that acoustic (viz., inertial) cavitation, rather than thermal insult, is the dominant mechanism by which such effects arise. We report the results of testing five specific hypotheses in an in vivo rabbit auricular blood vessel model: (1) acoustic cavitation nucleated by microbubble contrast agent can damage the endothelia of veins at relatively low spatial-peak temporal-average intensities, (2) such damage will be proportional to the peak negative pressure amplitude of the insonifying pulses, (3) damage will be confined largely to the intimal surface, with sparing of perivascular tissues, (4) greater damage will occur to the endothelial cells on the side of the vessel distal to the source transducer than on the proximal side and (5) ultrasound/contrast agent-induced endothelial damage can be inherently thrombogenic, or can aid sclerotherapeutic thrombogenesis through the application of otherwise subtherapeutic doses of thrombogenic drugs. Auricular vessels were exposed to 1-MHz focused ultrasound of variable peak pressure amplitude using low duty factor, fixed pulse parameters, with or without infusion of a shelled microbubble contrast agent. Extravasation of Evans blue dye and erythrocytes was assessed at the macroscopic level. Endothelial damage was assessed via scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image analysis. The hypotheses were supported by the data. We discuss potential therapeutic applications of vessel occlusion, e.g., occlusion of at-risk gastric varices.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2004.12.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000228440800011
View details for PubMedID 15831334