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Augmentation of Tissue Perfusion in Patients With Peripheral Artery Disease Using Microbubble Cavitation

JACC Cardiovascular Imaging — August, 2019



The authors investigated ideal acoustic conditions on a clinical scanner custom-programmed for ultrasound (US) cavitation-mediated flow augmentation in preclinical models. We then applied these conditions in a first-in-human study to test the hypothesis that contrast US can increase limb perfusion in normal subjects and patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD).


US-induced cavitation of microbubble contrast agents augments tissue perfusion by convective shear and secondary purinergic signalling that mediates release of endogenous vasodilators.


In mice, unilateral exposure of the proximal hindlimb to therapeutic US (1.3 MHz, mechanical index 1.3) was performed for 10 min after intravenous injection of lipid microbubbles. US varied according to line density (17, 37, 65 lines) and pulse duration. Microvascular perfusion was evaluated by US perfusion imaging, and in vivo adenosine triphosphate (ATP) release was assessed using in vivo optical imaging. Optimal parameters were then used in healthy volunteers and patients with PAD where calf US alone or in combination with intravenous microbubble contrast infusion was performed for 10 min.


In mice, flow was augmented in the US-exposed limb for all acoustic conditions. Only at the lowest line density was there a stepwise increase in perfusion for longer (40-cycle) versus shorter (5-cycle) pulse duration. For higher line densities, blood flow consistently increased by 3-fold to 4-fold in the US-exposed limb irrespective of pulse duration. High line density and long pulse duration resulted in the greatest release of ATP in the cavitation zone. Application of these optimized conditions in humans together with intravenous contrast increased calf muscle blood flow by >2-fold in both healthy subjects and patients with PAD, whereas US alone had no effect.


US of microbubbles when using optimized acoustic environments can increase perfusion in limb skeletal muscle, raising the possibility of a therapy for patients with PAD. (Augmentation of Limb Perfusion With Contrast Ultrasound; NCT03195556)

O’Neil R. Mason, MDa, Brian P. Davidson, MDa, Paul Sheeran, PhDb, Matthew Muller, BSa, James M. Hodovan, MS, RDCSa, Jonathan Sutton, PhDc, Jeffry Powers, PhDb and Jonathan R. Lindner, MDa,c,∗ (, @JLindnerMD

aKnight Cardiovascular Institute, Portland, OR; cOregon National Primate Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR; bPhilips Ultrasound, Bothell, Washington; and Philips

DOI: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2019.06.012

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