Effect of Overpressure on Acoustic Emissions and Treated Tissue Histology in ex Vivo Bulk Ultrasound Ablation

Chandra Priya Karunakaran, Mark T. Burgess, Marepalli B. Rao, Christy K. Holland, T. Douglas Mast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bulk ultrasound ablation is a thermal therapy approach in which tissue is heated by unfocused or weakly focused sonication (average intensities on the order of 100 W/cm2) to achieve coagulative necrosis within a few minutes exposure time. Assessing the role of bubble activity, including acoustic cavitation and tissue vaporization, in bulk ultrasound ablation may help in making bulk ultrasound ablation safer and more effective for clinical applications. Here, two series of ex vivo ablation trials were conducted to investigate the role of bubble activity and tissue vaporization in bulk ultrasound ablation. Fresh bovine liver tissue was ablated with unfocused, continuous-wave ultrasound using ultrasound image-ablate arrays sonicating at 31 W/cm2 (0.9 MPa amplitude) for either 20 min at a frequency of 3.1 MHz or 10 min at 4.8 MHz. Tissue specimens were maintained at a static overpressure of either 0.52 or 1.2 MPa to suppress bubble activity and tissue vaporization or at atmospheric pressure for control groups. A passive cavitation detector was used to record subharmonic (1.55 or 2.4 MHz), broadband (1.2–1.5 MHz) and low-frequency (5–20 kHz) acoustic emissions. Treated tissue was stained with 2% triphenyl tetrazolium chloride to evaluate thermal lesion dimensions. Subharmonic emissions were significantly reduced in overpressure groups compared with control groups. Correlations observed between acoustic emissions and lesion dimensions were significant and positive for the 3.1-MHz series, but significant and negative for the 4.8-MHz series. The results indicate that for bulk ultrasound ablation, where both acoustic cavitation and tissue vaporization are possible, bubble activity can enhance ablation in the absence of tissue vaporization, but can reduce thermal lesion dimensions in the presence of vaporization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2360-2376
Number of pages17
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustic cavitation
  • Bubble activity
  • Bulk ultrasound ablation
  • Overpressure
  • Passive detection
  • Tissue vaporization
  • Triphenyl tetrazolium chloride vital staining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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