Three-dimensional transcranial microbubble imaging for guiding volumetric ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier opening
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CitationJones, Ryan M. Deng, Lulu. Leung, Kogee. McMahon, Dallan. O'Reilly, Meaghan A. Hynynen, Kullervo. (2018). Three-dimensional transcranial microbubble imaging for guiding volumetric ultrasound-mediated blood-brain barrier opening. Theranostics, 8 (11) , 2909-2926. 10.7150/thno.24911.
Focused ultrasound (FUS)-mediated blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening recently entered clinical testing for targeted drug delivery to the brain. Sources of variability exist in the current procedures, motivating the development of real-time monitoring and control techniques to improve treatment safety and efficacy. Here we used three-dimensional (3D) transcranial microbubble imaging to calibrate FUS exposure levels for volumetric BBB opening.
Methods: Using a sparse hemispherical transmit/receive ultrasound phased array, pulsed ultrasound was focused transcranially into the thalamus of rabbits during microbubble infusion and multi-channel 3D beamforming was performed online with receiver signals captured at the subharmonic frequency. Pressures were increased pulse-by-pulse until subharmonic activity was detected on acoustic imaging (psub), and tissue volumes surrounding the calibration point were exposed at 50-100%psub via rapid electronic beam steering.
Results: Spatially-coherent subharmonic microbubble activity was successfully reconstructed transcranially in vivo during calibration sonications. Multi-point exposures induced volumetric regions of elevated BBB permeability assessed via contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At exposure levels ≥75%psub, MRI and histological examination occasionally revealed tissue damage, whereas sonications at 50%psub were performed safely. Substantial intra-grid variability of FUS-induced bioeffects was observed via MRI, prompting future development of multi-point calibration schemes for improved treatment consistency. Receiver array sparsity and sensor configuration had substantial impacts on subharmonic detection sensitivity, and are factors that should be considered when designing next-generation clinical FUS brain therapy systems.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that 3D subharmonic imaging can be used to calibrate exposure levels for safe FUS-induced volumetric BBB opening, and should be explored further as a method for cavitation-mediated treatment guidance.