Brigham Researchers Demonstrate Real-time Microbubble Monitoring for Transcranial Focused Ultrasound


Potential Boon to Future Regulatory Approval of Non-thermal Brain Applications Also Wins Prestigious Research Prize

The Roberts Prize for the best article published in Physics in Medicine and Biology was recently awarded to Costas Arvanitis, Margaret Livingstone, and Nathan McDannold from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston for their article “Combined Ultrasound and MR Imaging to Guide Focused Ultrasound Therapies in the Brain.” More than a way to monitor focused ultrasound (FUS), such as FUS-induced blood-brain barrier disruption, their work could likely be a key to demonstrating the level of safety required by regulatory agencies who will review focused ultrasound treatment of brain conditions.

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Currently, due to the lack of methods to monitor and control ultrasound-induced microbubble oscillations in the brain, Arvanitis et al. ed whether the acoustic emissions generated by oscillating microbubbles could be mapped transcranially using a clinical MRgFUS system that also incorporated an ultrasound imaging probe. Their initial experiments showed positive results, as they demonstrated, for the first time, that they could map stable cavitation during transient blood–brain barrier disruption and inertial cavitation while producing vascular damage. The quality of their results provided the first level of guidance that would be needed in a clinical setting. As a research tool, this technique could also open the door to discovery of new treatments for many different diseases.

Brigham and Womens Hospital LogoAwarded by the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM), the prestigious Roberts Prize recognizes the paper as the best of all of those published in the journal during the previous year. Calling the research a “breakthrough,” the award was formally announced by IPEM, and Dr. Arvanitis was invited to present it and accept the cash prize at the Institute’s annual meeting and dinner in Glasgow, Scotland. Medical Physics Web recently published a news story with images from the event and included a description of the rigorous selection process and additional details about the importance of this work. The Institute is the professional organization for physicists, clinical and biomedical engineers, and technologists working in medicine and biology.