Intravascular ultrasound devices are used on a regular basis to break up blood clots. These devices deliver high frequency ultrasound energy from a side facing transducer, shaking up clots and opening up blood vessels. Because of engineering limitations that have resulted in ultrasound being emitted laterally, the clots don’t break up as well as they should and the vessels themselves can get damaged.
Researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have now developed a forward looking ultrasound probe that works at lower frequencies, and that will hopefully be more effective at clot disruption, resulting in better penetration and lower use of clot busting drugs, such as tPA. The new “ultrasound drill” breaks up clots until the debris is similarly small in size to that produced by existing intravascular sonothrombolysis devices unlike larger mechanical drills now used to disrupt clots that require large doses of clot busters.
In addition to its forward facing business end, the device has a channel through which microbubbles can be expelled toward a clot, increasing the effectiveness of how the ultrasound impacts the target clots.
Although promising for clinical applications, the device is still in the laboratory and has only been tested on synthetic vessels filled with cow blood. “We found that we could dissolve 90 percent of a clot in 3.5 to 4 hours without using any blood thinners at all,” in a statement said Jinwook Kim, lead author of the paper and a Ph.D. student at NC State. “That’s compared to 10 hours for the combination of conventional ultrasound tools and blood thinners.” The next step is to try the drill on animal models before moving onto in-human trials.
Study in Scientific Reports: Intravascular forward-looking ultrasound transducers for microbubble-mediated sonothrombolysis…