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Enhancing Focused Ultrasound Surgery

Gloria Nyankima


Focused ultrasound surgery (FUS) provides a safer alternative to surgical resection. By focusing acoustic energy to a target region of diseased tissue, the transmitted ultrasound waves can rapidly raise the temperature of the target, subsequently causing necrosis and cell-death. There are concerns in the medical community, including high acoustic energy dosing, which can lead to off-target lesions, and long treatment time (more than an hour), particularly when considering large, or multiple, tumor masses.

Our lab is utilizing ultrasound contrast technology as a vehicle for mechanical energy in the hopes of decreasing off-target heating and surgical time. We hypothesize that phase-change nanoagents, specifically, have great promise in accomplishing these two goals. First, they are smaller in diameter than their microbubble counterparts, potentially allowing for greater penetration in the tumor. Secondly, to utilize for therapy, phase-change nanoagents require an activation pulse to convert their core into a gas. This process increases the specificity of the technology, therefore allowing users to select where the treatment will occur and reducing the risk of off-target heating. In collaboration with Dr. Charles Caskey and his lab at Vanderbilt University, we are exploring nanoagent-mediated FUS in combination with his unique multi-focused magnetic resonance guided ultrasound therapy technology.