Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Painstaking Details

Ultrasound imaging of nerve-vessel conjunctions in the face – towards treating neuralgia and migraine

08 May 2022

Painstaking Details

A milestone in many pregnancies, harmless pulses of ultrasound waves bend and deflect around chubby limbs and beating hearts – structures too delicate to examine directly, pictured from the patterns they leave behind. Here though, scientists take ultrasound even further. These are trigeminal ganglions, sort of 'hubs' for nerves in the jaw (of a rat in this case) – where bundles of nerve cells rub up against veins and arteries. Ultrasound localisation microscopy highlights streams of microbubbles – piped into the blood they deflect the ultrasound waves, allowing researchers (and their computer algorithms) to map out blood vessels (left) and even spot the direction of flow (right, blue flowing upwards, yellow downwards) and speed (brighter is faster). The technique could now be modified to scan human faces, where knowing more about these neurovascular meeting points may help to treat painful trigeminal neuralgia and facial migraines.

Written by John Ankers

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