Ultrasound-mediated destruction of contrast agents: Effect of ultrasound intensity, exposure, and frequency

Kirk W. Walker, George A. Pantely, David J. Sahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES. Although ultrasound contrast microbubbles theoretically could serve as tracers for the noninvasive quantification of blood flow, results have been inconsistent. Accurate quantification may be limited by ultrasound energy-mediated microbubble destruction. This study examined the effect of different ultrasound delivery parameters on microbubble destruction. METHODS. Experiments were performed in an in vitro hydraulic perfusion model consisting of a thin-walled rubber tube encased in agar. Ultrasonic parameters tested during different parts of the experiment were (1) intensity, (2) duration, and (3) frequency. Four ultrasound contrast agents: Aerosomes MRX115 (ImaRx Pharmaceuticals Corp., Tucson, AZ), Imagent AF0150 US (Alliance Pharmaceutical Corp., San Diego, CA), Levovist (Berlex Laboratories, Wayne, NJ), and Echogen (Sonus Pharmaceuticals, Bothel, WA) were imaged with three different ultrasound systems: ATL Ultramark AM-9 HDI, Vingmed 800 and Hewlett-Packard 2500. RESULTS. Microbubble destruction and reductions in reflectivity were noted in all agents tested. Although no significant reductions in counts or reflectivity occurred at 0.3 W/cm2 with any agent, exposure to 25 W/cm2 produced more than 80% reductions in both microbubble counts (P < 0.0001) and reflectivity (P < 0.0001). Declines in reflectivity were increased by longer exposure to ultrasound (P < 0.0001); slower flow through an ultrasound beam (P < 0.0001); continuous, rather than intermittent, imaging (P = 0.0002); use of a higher pulse repetition rate (P < 0.0001); and exposure to 2.5 MHz, rather than 7.5 MHz, ultrasound (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS. Ultrasound energy-mediated destruction of contrast microbubbles is a function of many factors, including ultrasound intensity, duration, and frequency. Optimization of ultrasound delivery parameters may be used to maximize or minimize the destruction of ultrasound contrast agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-734
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Radiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrast media
  • Echocardiography
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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