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Eur Radiol. 2007 Aug;17(8):1995-2008. Epub 2007 Mar 10.

Microbubble ultrasound contrast agents: an update.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Cattinara Hospital, University of Trieste (Italy), Strada di Fiume 447, Trieste 34149, Italy,


Microbubble contrast agents for ultrasound (US) have gained increasing interest in recent years, and contrast-enhanced US (CEUS) is a rapidly evolving field with applications now extending far beyond the initial improvements achieved in Doppler US. This has been achieved as a result of the safe profile and the increased stability of microbubbles persisting in the bloodstream for several minutes, and also by the availability of specialized contrast-specific US techniques, which allow a definite improvement in the contrast resolution and suppression of signal from stationary tissues. CEUS with low transmit power allows real-time scanning with the possibility of prolonged organ insonation. Several reports have described the effectiveness of microbubble contrast agents in many clinical applications and particularly in the liver, spleen, and kidneys. CEUS allows the assessment of the macrovasculature and microvasculature in different parenchymas, the identification and characterization of hepatic and splenic lesions, the depiction of septal enhancement in cystic renal masses, and the quantification of organ perfusion by the quantitative analysis of the echo-signal intensity. Other fields of application include the assessment of abdominal organs after traumas and the assessment of vesico-ureteral reflux in children. Finally, tumor-targeted microbubbles make possible the depiction of specific biologic processes.

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