Removing blood clots with sound waves

Removing blood clots with sound waves

An ultrasound device designed to produce highly directed sound waves could one day be used to break up blood clots that cause strokes in the brain without the need for surgery or drugs. So far, the system has only been tested on clots in test tubes and animals, but the researchers intend to start human testing in late 2011.

Thilo Hoelscher, a neurologist at the University of California, San Diego, targets clots with a device developed by Israeli ultrasound technology company InSightec. The device surrounds the head with a series of transducers capable of directing the ultrasound rays to specific points in the brain without damaging the skull.

The technology is already being tested in patients to remove diseased brain tissue, but treating a stroke will require a more delicate hand. Hoelscher and his colleagues will have to show that the device can dissolve a brain clot without damaging the surrounding brain tissue.

InSightec's High Intensity Directed Ultrasound (HIFU) device is helmet-like, lined with more than 1,000 ultrasound transducers. Each of them can be individually focused to send a beam to the brain of the person wearing the helmet. The directed beams converge at a point just four millimeters wide, precise enough to hit a clot that blocks an artery and cause it to dissolve in less than a minute.

Source: Technology Review

Video: Clearing Up Blood Clots (January 2022).