An analytical model has been constructed for the process of formation of thermal lesions in tissue, resulting from exposure to intense, highly focused ultrasound beams such as may be used in minimally invasive surgery. The model assumes a Gaussian approximation to beam shape in the focal region and predicts, for any such focal beam, the time delay to initiation of a lesion and the subsequent time course of growth of that lesion in lateral and axial dimensions, taking into account the effects of thermal diffusion and blood perfusion. The necessary approximations and assumptions of the model are considered. Comparison of predictions with experimentally measured data on excised pig liver indicate generally good agreement. Comparisons are also made of this theory with previously published data on exposure-time dependence of lesioning threshold intensity. Deficiencies are identified in existing practice for measuring and reporting acoustic exposures for focused ultrasound surgery, and the proposal is therefore made that a quantity that would be more satisfactory, from the viewpoints both of metrology and biophysical relevance, is the intensity spatially averaged over the area enclosed by the half-pressure-maximum contour in the focal plane, as determined under linear conditions, provisionally denoted as ISAL. © 1994.
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