High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) ablation by the frequency chirps: Enhanced thermal field and cavitation at the focus

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HighlightsFrequency chirps don’t affect the average acoustic field.Stronger bubble expansion and cavitation-enhanced heating could be generated.Lesion production is enhanced in both gel phantom and ex vivo tissue samples.Such enhancement is preferable for large frequency sweeping rang in a short time.High-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) has become popular in the noninvasive ablation of a variety of solid tumors and cancers with promising clinical outcomes. Its ablation efficiency should be improved for the reduced treatment duration, especially for a large target. The frequency chirps were proposed and investigated for the enhanced lesion production and bubble cavitation at the focus during HIFU ablation. First, a nonlinear wave model was used to simulate the acoustic field using different excitation strategies (at the constant frequency excitation, downward and upward frequency chirps) and subsequently, the bubble dynamics and cavitation-enhanced temperature elevation were calculated by the Gilmore and Bioheat equations, respectively. Then the temperature rises and the produced lesion in the gel phantom were measured by the thermocouple and recorded photographically, respectively. Bubble activities at the focus were measured by passive cavitation detection (PCD) to quantify the scattering and inertial cavitation levels using short-time Fourier-transform (STFT). Finally, the enhanced temperature elevation, lesion production, and bubble cavitation were further confirmed in the ex vivo tissue samples. It is found that the frequency sweeping time plays a more important role in the enhancement of HIFU-produced lesion in the gel phantom while the frequency sweeping range seems more critical in the tissue. Altogether, large frequency sweeping range in a short time is preferable, and the frequency sweeping direction has little influence on the lesion enhancement.

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