A numerical study of transcranial focused ultrasound beam propagation at low frequency

  • Yin X
  • Hynynen K
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The feasibility of transcranial ultrasound focusing with a non-moving phased array and without skull-specific aberration correction was investigated using computer simulations. Three cadaver skull CT image data sets were incorporated into an acoustic wave transmission model to simulate transskull ultrasound wave propagation. Using a 0.25 MHz hemispherical array (125 mm radius of curvature, 250 mm diameter, 24 255 elements), the simulated beams could be focused and steered with transducer element driving phases and amplitude adjusted for focal beam steering in water (water-path). A total of 82 foci, spanning wide ranges of distance in the three orthogonal dimensions, were simulated to test the focal beam steering capability inside the three skulls. The acoustic pressure distribution in a volume of 20 x 20 x 20 mm(3) centred at each focus was calculated with a 0.5 mm spacing in each axis. Clearly defined foci were retained through the skulls (skull-path) in most cases. The skull-path foci were on average 1.6 +/- 0.8 mm shifted from their intended locations. The -3 dB skull-path beam width and length were on average 4.3 +/- 1.0 mm and 7.7 +/- 1.8 mm, respectively. The skull-path sidelobe levels ranged from 25% to 55% of the peak pressure values. The skull-path peak pressure levels were about 10%-40% of their water-path counterparts. Focusing low-frequency beam through skull without skull-specific aberration correction is possible. This method may be useful for applying ultrasound to disrupt the blood-brain barrier for targeted delivery of therapeutic or diagnostic agents, or to induce microbubbles, or for other uses of ultrasound in brain where the required power levels are low and the sharp focusing is not needed.

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