Ultrasound Therapeutic Applications

Ultrasound also has therapeutic applications, which can be highly beneficial when used with dosage precautions:

  • According to RadiologyInfo, ultrasounds are useful in the detection of pelvic abnormalities and can involve techniques known as abdominal (transabdominal) ultrasound, vaginal (transvaginal or endovaginal) ultrasound in women, and also rectal (transrectal) ultrasound in men.
  • Focused high-energy ultrasound pulses can be used to break calculi such as kidney stones and gallstones into fragments small enough to be passed from the body without undue difficulty, a process known as lithotripsy.
  • Treating benign and malignant tumors and other disorders via a process known as high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), also called ''focused ultrasound surgery'' (FUS). In this procedure, a generally lower frequencies than medical diagnostic ultrasound is used (250–2000 kHz), but significantly higher time-averaged intensities. The treatment is often guided by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—this is called ''Magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound'' (MRgFUS). Delivering chemotherapy to brain cancer cells and various drugs to other tissues is called acoustic targeted drug delivery (ATDD). These procedures generally use high frequency ultrasound (1-10 MHz) and a range of intensities (0-20 watts/cm2). The acoustic energy is focused on the tissue of interest to agitate its matrix and make it more permeable for therapeutic drugs. (ATDD).]]
  • Therapeutic ultrasound, a technique that uses more powerful ultrasound sources to generate cellular effects in soft tissue has fallen out of favor as research has shown a lack of efficacy and a lack of scientific basis for proposed biophysical effects. Ultrasound has been used in cancer treatment.
  • Cleaning teeth in dental hygiene.
  • Focused ultrasound sources may be used for cataract treatment by phacoemulsification.
  • Additional physiological effects of low-intensity ultrasound have recently been discovered, e.g. the ability to stimulate bone-growth and its potential to disrupt the blood-brain barrier for drug delivery.
  • Ultrasound is essential to the procedures of ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment for the non-surgical treatment of varicose veins.
  • Ultrasound-assisted lipectomy is lipectomy assisted by ultrasound. Liposuction can also be assisted by ultrasound.
  • Doppler ultrasound is being tested for use in aiding tissue plasminogen activator treatment in stroke sufferers in the procedure called ultrasound-enhanced systemic thrombolysis.
  • Low intensity pulsed ultrasound is used for therapeutic tooth and bone regeneration.
  • Ultrasound can also be used for elastography. This can be useful in medical diagnoses, as elasticity can discern healthy from unhealthy tissue for specific organs/growths. In some cases unhealthy tissue may have a lower system Q, meaning that the system acts more like a large heavy spring as compared to higher values of system Q (healthy tissue) that respond to higher forcing frequencies. Ultrasonic elastography is different from conventional ultrasound, as a transceiver (pair) and a transmitter are used instead of only a transceiver. One transducer acts as both the transmitter and receiver to image the region of interest over time. The extra transmitter is a very low frequency transmitter, and perturbs the system so the unhealthy tissue oscillates at a low frequency and the healthy tissue does not. The transceiver, which operates at a high frequency (typically MHz) then measures the displacement of the unhealthy tissue (oscillating at a much lower frequency). The movement of the slowly oscillating tissue is used to determine the elasticity of the material, which can then be used to distinguish healthy tissue from the unhealthy tissue.
  • Ultrasound has been shown to act synergistically with antibiotics in bacterial cell killing.
  • Ultrasound has been postulated to allow thicker eukaryotic cell tissue cultures by promoting nutrient penetration.
  • Ultrasound in the low MHz range in the form of standing waves is an emerging tool for contactless separation, concentration and manipulation of microparticles and biological cells, a method referred to as acoustophoresis. The basis is the acoustic radiation force, a non-linear effect which causes particles to be attracted to either the nodes or anti-nodes of the standing wave depending on the acoustic contrast factor, which is a function of the sound velocities and densities of the particle and of the medium in which the particle is immersed.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Ultrasound" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Last Updated: Aug 9, 2013

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