The majority of exchanges of oxygen and nutrients are performed around vessels smaller than 100 μm, allowing cells to thrive everywhere in the body. Pathologies such as cancer, diabetes and arteriosclerosis can profoundly alter the microvasculature. Unfortunately, medical imaging modalities only provide indirect observation at this scale. Inspired by optical microscopy, ultrasound localization microscopy has bypassed the classic compromise between penetration and resolution in ultrasonic imaging. By localization of individual injected microbubbles and tracking of their displacement with a subwavelength resolution, vascular and velocity maps can be produced at the scale of the micrometer. Super-resolution ultrasound has also been performed through signal fluctuations with the same type of contrast agents, or through switching on and off nano-sized phase-change contrast agents. These techniques are now being applied pre-clinically and clinically for imaging of the microvasculature of the brain, kidney, skin, tumors and lymph nodes.
Christensen-Jeffries, K., Couture, O., Dayton, P. A., Eldar, Y. C., Hynynen, K., Kiessling, F., … van Sloun, R. J. G. (2020, April 1). Super-resolution Ultrasound Imaging. Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology. Elsevier USA. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2019.11.013