Groundbreaking Bubble Research – New Mathematical Model Paves the Way for Improved Ultrasound Clarity

by Henrik Andersen
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Ultrasound Imaging Improvement

A group of scientists from the University of Tsukuba have unveiled a new mathematical model that incorporates the compressibility of encased microbubbles in the spread of ultrasonic waves, promising to refine ultrasound imaging resolution and offering greater precision in drug delivery.

At the University of Tsukuba, a research team has formulated a mathematical representation that illuminates the connection between sound waves and encapsulated microbubbles, frequently employed as contrast agents in ultrasound imaging. This pioneering development could foster significant progress in medical imaging and drug delivery sectors.

The Tsukuba University researchers have crafted a unique theoretical equation capable of predicting the ultrasound waves’ behavior as they navigate through liquids populated with encased bubbles. The team identified the need to consider the bubble shell’s compressibility for the accurate prediction of the motion and interaction of these sound waves. This scientific exploration has the potential to trigger advancements in ultrasound imaging resolution, facilitating the development of more efficient contrast agents.

Ultrasound technology has become an indispensable instrument in contemporary healthcare due to its capacity to generate detailed diagnostic images non-invasively and safely. The technique involves transmitting high-frequency sound waves from a transducer and capturing the echoes produced at the junction of tissues with varying densities. The time taken for the echoes to bounce back allows a computer to reconstruct the image. However, ultrasound’s primary limitation is its low resolution, leading to the need for contrast agents like microbubbles in procedures such as echocardiograms or liver scans. To create superior contrast agents, a better theoretical comprehension of the physics involved in the interaction between encapsulated microbubbles, possessing a thick shell, and sound waves, is necessary.

Now, scientists at the University of Tsukuba have come up with fresh nonlinear equations that consider the shell layer’s compressibility to extend its utility to numerous bubbles. The researchers opted for this direction as previous studies overlooked realistic properties for the bubble surface. “We portrayed the shell as a viscoelastic entity, which proved pivotal in our analysis,” says Professor Tetsuya Kanagawa, a key member of the team.

Compressibility refers to the change in volume of a fluid or solid as a reaction to variations in pressure. While other research undertakings concentrated on the bubble’s internal deformations, they overlooked the bubble itself. The researchers discovered that including the shell in their calculations resulted in a rise in the attenuation (dissipation) coefficient.

Professor Kanagawa adds, “Our work sets the stage for future enhancements to the theory of sound attenuation in liquids.” The microbubbles examined in this study could also be adapted for therapeutic applications, like targeted drug delivery. Here, sound waves could be utilized to burst the bubbles at specific times or locations within the body, consequently releasing the drug.

Citation: “Nonlinear acoustic theory on flowing liquid containing multiple microbubbles coated by a compressible visco-elastic shell: Low and high frequency cases” by Tetsuya Kanagawa, Mitsuhiro Honda, and Yusei Kikuchi, 6 February 2023, Physics of Fluids.
DOI: 10.1063/5.0101219

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ultrasound Imaging Improvement

What new development has been made by researchers at the University of Tsukuba?

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have developed a novel mathematical model that takes into account the compressibility of encapsulated microbubbles in the propagation of ultrasonic waves. This development could enhance the resolution of ultrasound imaging and improve precision in drug delivery.

What is the purpose of the new mathematical model?

The mathematical model helps to understand the relationship between sound waves and encapsulated microbubbles, which are commonly used as contrast agents in ultrasound. By taking into account the compressibility of the microbubble shell, it allows for accurate prediction of sound wave movement and interaction. This could pave the way for advancements in ultrasound imaging resolution and drug delivery.

What makes ultrasound technology crucial in modern health care?

Ultrasound technology is important in modern health care as it provides detailed diagnostic images in a safe and non-invasive manner. It works by sending high-frequency sound waves from a transducer and listening for the echoes created at the interface between tissues of different densities. This technology, however, suffers from low resolution, which the new model aims to improve.

How could the new mathematical model affect drug delivery?

The mathematical model could affect drug delivery by improving the precision of targeted drug delivery techniques. The microbubbles studied in the project can potentially be used for therapeutic purposes. Sound waves can be used to burst these bubbles at specific times or locations in the body, thus releasing the drug.

Who are the authors of the referenced paper?

The paper titled “Nonlinear acoustic theory on flowing liquid containing multiple microbubbles coated by a compressible visco-elastic shell: Low and high frequency cases” was authored by Tetsuya Kanagawa, Mitsuhiro Honda, and Yusei Kikuchi. It was published in Physics of Fluids on 6 February 2023.

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