Annular phased array transducer for preclinical testing of anti-cancer drug efficacy on small animals

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A technique using pulsed High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) to destroy deep-seated solid tumors is a promising noninvasive therapeutic approach. A main purpose of this study was to design and test a HIFU transducer suitable for preclinical studies of efficacy of tested, anti-cancer drugs, activated by HIFU beams, in the treatment of a variety of solid tumors implanted to various organs of small animals at the depth of the order of 1–2 cm under the skin. To allow focusing of the beam, generated by such transducer, within treated tissue at different depths, a spherical, 2-MHz, 29-mm diameter annular phased array transducer was designed and built. To prove its potential for preclinical studies on small animals, multiple thermal lesions were induced in a pork loin ex vivo by heating beams of the same: 6 W, or 12 W, or 18 W acoustic power and 25 mm, 30 mm, and 35 mm focal lengths. Time delay for each annulus was controlled electronically to provide beam focusing within tissue at the depths of 10 mm, 15 mm, and 20 mm. The exposure time required to induce local necrosis was determined at different depths using thermocouples. Location and extent of thermal lesions determined from numerical simulations were compared with those measured using ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging techniques and verified by a digital caliper after cutting the tested tissue samples. Quantitative analysis of the results showed that the location and extent of necrotic lesions on the magnetic resonance images are consistent with those predicted numerically and measured by caliper. The edges of lesions were clearly outlined although on ultrasound images they were fuzzy. This allows to conclude that the use of the transducer designed offers an effective noninvasive tool not only to induce local necrotic lesions within treated tissue without damaging the surrounding tissue structures but also to test various chemotherapeutics activated by the HIFU beams in preclinical studies on small animals.

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