- UltraCon is a week-long educational event and the annual meeting for the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM).
- A highly interactive, two-day symposium, “Breaking the Sound Barrier: Shaping the Future of Ultrasound,” featured focused ultrasound and histotripsy presentations.
- Two focused ultrasound abstracts were chosen for UltraCon’s “Great 8 Abstract Session,” which recognizes the best-of-the-best research with a prize pool of $10,000.
- Frédéric Padilla, PhD, the Foundation’s research director for applied physics, received a 2023 Presidential Recognition Award.
UltraCon 2023, the week-long premier educational event and annual meeting for the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM), was held in Orlando, Florida, March 25–29.
Two senior staff from the Foundation, Frédéric Padilla, PhD, research director for applied physics, and Suzanne LeBlang, MD, director of clinical relationships, attended AIUM and planned and presented at a two-day symposium on focused ultrasound. Dr. Padilla was recognized with a 2023 Presidential Recognition award for working closely with the AIUM President to further the society’s mission and vision. Awardees are those who make outstanding contributions and services to AIUM and the broader ultrasound community.
Special Symposium on Focused Ultrasound
The highly interactive, two-day symposium, “Breaking the Sound Barrier: Shaping the Future of Ultrasound,” was held on March 28–29. It convened clinicians, technologists, researchers, industry, and other ultrasound stakeholders to discuss state-of-the-art technologies, unmet clinical needs, and potential pathways forward. The topics and schedule for each day are outlined below.
Day One: Clinical Problems Rapid Fire
This session was designed to allow clinicians and technologists from a range of ultrasound specialties to rapidly present their ultrasound-related problems, challenges, and pain points in need of urgent solutions.
- Elastography: The Holy Grail for Musculoskeletal Ultrasound
- Brain Edema and Other Easily Missed Ultrasound Findings on Hypoxia Ischemic Injuries
- Engineering an End to Preterm Birth
- Lung Ultrasound – Let’s Get Rid of the Zones!
- Why is this Liver Stiff?
- Can We Improve the Evaluation of Trans-Jugular Intrahepatic Portosystemic Shunt (TIPS) Patency?
- Bowel Wall Thickening in Crohn’s Disease: Is It Inflammation, Scar, or Both?
Day Two: TED Talks and Nerd Out
These sessions were designed to expose attendees (1) to groundbreaking ultrasound technologies being developed by researchers – and their potential future use, and (2) to industry professionals describing the latest technologies. Expert clinicians engaged the researchers and industry professionals about their technologies and facilitated audience interaction with presenters. Attendees received in-depth look at some of the topics and issues that ultrasound scientists are focusing on in the future.
- Ultrasound in the Brain: Imaging and Beyond
- Advanced Liver Quantification – Impacting the Pathway
- A New Era of Deep Tissue Microvascular Imaging with Super-Resolution Ultrasound
- Clinically Informed AI for Intervention
- The Magic of Sound for Patients with Spinal Cord Injury
- 3D Blood Volume Flow
Nerd Out Session Topics:
- When, Where, and Why Elastography Does Not Work and How Do We Fix It?
- Handheld Ultrasound Devices: What Is the Status, What Are the Gaps?
- Wearable and At-Home Ultrasound: Controversies and What’s Possible?
- Ultrasound-Guided Therapeutic Ultrasound: How Effective Will This Be?
Dr. Padilla moderated the “Ultrasound-Guided Therapeutic Ultrasound” section, which included a presentation from Dr. LeBlang on focused ultrasound thermal ablation and BBB opening and another presentation from Kenneth Bader, PhD (University of Chicago Department of Radiology) on histotripsy.
“Ultrasound, although once perceived as a less advanced imaging modality, has clearly matured providing many advantages over CT and MRI,” said Dr. LeBlang. “Ultrasound is ideally suited to be used in conjunction with therapeutic focused ultrasound procedures because it can provide real-time targeting, treatment monitoring, and outcome ablation efficacy. As it does not use radiation, it is quite attractive, and new technological advances are making smaller machines that are easier to use and more portable, allowing for democratization of healthcare in urban, rural, and international locations.”
Award-Winning Focused Ultrasound Abstracts
Two focused ultrasound abstracts were chosen for UltraCon’s “Great 8 Abstract Session,” a special session that recognizes the best-of-the-best research with a prize pool of $10,000 to further the research. In addition to the honor of being recognized as one of the top 8 abstracts, each presenter receives $1,000, and the #1 presenter wins $3,000.
As listed below, these noteworthy posters featured the use of focused ultrasound for drug delivery and tumor radiosensitization:
- In Vitro Ultrasound-Triggered Drug Release from a Poly(lactic acid) Film Pocket with Embedded Vancomycin Powder by Selin Isguven, Lauren J. Delaney, Hebah Falatah, Ryan E. Tomlinson, Noreen J. Hickok, and Flemming Forsberg from Thomas Jefferson University and Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
- Improved Tumor Radiosensitization Following Administration of Ultrasound Sensitive lonidamine-Loaded Oxygen Microbubbles by Quezia Lacerda, Hebah Falatah, Brian Oeffinger, Ji-Bin Liu, Corinne E. Wessner, Dennis Leeper, Flemming Forsberg, Patrick O’Kane, Margaret A. Wheatley, and John R. Eisenbrey from Drexel University School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems and Thomas Jefferson University
Additional focused ultrasound posters included a new investigator abstract on therapeutic ultrasound and more:
- Analyzing Gene Expression after Administration of Low-Intensity Therapeutic Ultrasound in Human Islet Cells by John Hill, James N. Messina, Alex Jeremic, and Vesna Zderic from George Washington University
- Focused Ultrasound Ablation of Canine Mammary Cancer by Anastasia Antoniou, Nikolas Evripidou, and Christakis Damianou from the Cyprus University of Technology
- Focused Ultrasound Phantom with Inclusion of Tumour by Christakis Damianou, Anastasia Antoniou, and Nikolas Evripidou from the Cyprus University of Technology
AI and VR in Diagnostic Ultrasound
Beyond therapeutic ultrasound, Dr. Padilla also noted the current state of the field for diagnostic ultrasound. “Diagnostic ultrasound is using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and characterize lesions and to generate artificial images for pediatric applications,” he said. “The artificial images are being used to train physicians and residents. Many commercial solutions are already available for ultrasound imaging AI (e.g., Clarius, ThinkSono, DEEPECHO FetalBio, HeartFocus Education).” He also mentioned that several virtual reality (VR) companies have already begun work with focused ultrasound manufacturers.
On the future of the technology, Dr. Padilla said, “Many point-of-care, portable, and wearable ultrasound imaging systems are now available – and some are connected to mobile phones with incredibly high-quality images being produced.”
According to the meeting website, UltraCon draws more than 1,000 physicians, sonographers, and scientists from around the world to convene about current topics in all disciplines of medical ultrasound. With an overall focus on patient care, the meeting includes educational opportunities in ultrasound practice, training, and technical development.