Date Published:2013 Jul 21
Several emerging therapies with potential for use in the brain, harness effects produced by acoustic cavitation--the interaction between ultrasound and microbubbles either generated during sonication or introduced into the vasculature. Systems developed for transcranial MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) thermal ablation can enable their clinical translation, but methods for real-time monitoring and control are currently lacking. Acoustic emissions produced during sonication can provide information about the location, strength and type of the microbubble oscillations within the ultrasound field, and they can be mapped in real-time using passive imaging approaches. Here, we tested whether such mapping can be achieved transcranially within a clinical brain MRgFUS system. We integrated an ultrasound imaging array into the hemisphere transducer of the MRgFUS device. Passive cavitation maps were obtained during sonications combined with a circulating microbubble agent at 20 targets in the cingulate cortex in three macaques. The maps were compared with MRI-evident tissue effects. The system successfully mapped microbubble activity during both stable and inertial cavitation, which was correlated with MRI-evident transient blood-brain barrier disruption and vascular damage, respectively. The location of this activity was coincident with the resulting tissue changes within the expected resolution limits of the system. While preliminary, these data clearly demonstrate, for the first time, that it is possible to construct maps of stable and inertial cavitation transcranially, in a large animal model, and under clinically relevant conditions. Further, these results suggest that this hybrid ultrasound/MRI approach can provide comprehensive guidance for targeted drug delivery via blood-brain barrier disruption and other emerging ultrasound treatments, facilitating their clinical translation. We anticipate that it will also prove to be an important research tool that will further the development of a broad range of microbubble-enhanced therapies.