What is CEUS?

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (“CEUS”) is an enhanced form of ultrasound imaging.

CEUS is routinely used worldwide to detect heart disease and stratify a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke.  CEUS also is used to identify, characterize and stage tumors of the liver, kidney, prostate, breast and other organ systems, and to monitor the effectiveness of cancer therapies.  

CEUS uses radiation-free imaging agents, known as ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) or ultrasound enhancing agents (UEAs), to improve the clarity, reliability and functionality of traditional ultrasound scans.  The UCAs contain biocompatible gas-filled microbubbles that are smaller than red blood cells and are excellent reflectors of ultrasound signals.  When UCAs are injected into a patient’s arm vein during an ultrasound exam, the gas inside the microbubbles produce enhanced ultrasound images as the microbubbles flow unimpeded through the microcirculation. UCAs are expelled from the body within minutes.

UCAs do not contain dye, and CEUS imaging does not expose patients or health care workers to ionizing radiation.  In addition, UCAs present no known risk of kidney or liver damage.

Decades of experience with the administration of millions of doses of UCAs throughout the world, along with an extensive body of published safety data, show that UCAs are exceedingly safe for the vast majority of patients.   

The real-time, high resolution images produced by CEUS are often comparable to images obtained with CT or MR.  Thus, a quick, reliable and relatively low cost CEUS scan may reduce the need for additional or alternative tests.  This, in turn, often reduces overall imaging costs, speeds up the patient’s diagnosis and treatment and improves hospital workflows.  In addition, because ultrasound equipment is portable and widely available, CEUS may be used in a variety of clinical settings, including the clinic or at a patient’s bedside.    

UCAs are particularly important for pediatric imaging because they allow children to avoid alternative forms of diagnostic imaging and interventions that would expose their young bodies to radiation or require sedation or anesthesia. 

UCAs are approved in more than 70 countries for use in diagnosing a wide variety of medical abnormalities of the heart, liver, gastro-intestinal tract, kidneys, and other organ systems.  At present, the following UCAs are available for approved indications in various countries:

  • Definity/Luminity (Lantheus Medical Imaging)
  • Definity RT (Lantheus Medical Imaging)
  • Lumason/Sonovue (Bracco Diagnostics)
  • Optison (GE Healthcare)
  • Sonozoid (GE Healthcare)

Ongoing clinical trials and pending regulatory applications are aimed at expanding the approved uses of UCAs.

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