Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Tracking Bubbles

New technique to separate tiny bubbles improves resolution of ultrasound imaging

28 May 2020

Tracking Bubbles

Ultrasound scans are used to image tissues in the body for medical reasons. Microbubbles can improve the resolution of these scans. These tiny bubbles are injected into the bloodstream and vibrate in response to ultrasound waves. Researchers try to improve this technique for imaging microvessels — the smallest of blood vessels. Small amounts of microbubbles are normally injected, as they need to separate out for accurate images. However, in microvessels where blood flows slower, it takes so long for these few microbubbles to arrive that the tissue moves, distorting the image. Add more microbubbles and they overlap in large blood vessels, also distorting the image. Now a new technique to process these images is tested which separates out overlapping microbubbles based on features such as movement speed and flow direction. Images of chicken embryo blood vessels processed with this technique (right) show clearer microvessels and large vessels compared with unprocessed images (left).

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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