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J Magn Reson Imaging. 2002 Oct;16(4):362-77.

Targeted imaging using ultrasound.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California-Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


The discipline of medical imaging is expanding to include both traditional anatomic modalities and new techniques for the functional assessment of the presence and extent of disease. Current FDA-approved ultrasound contrast agents are micron-sized bubbles with a stabilizing shell. Microbubble contrast agents can be used to estimate microvascular flow rate in a manner similar to dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The concentration of these agents within the vasculature, reticulo-endothelial, or lymphatic systems produces an effective passive targeting of these areas. Liquid-filled nanoparticles and liposomes have also demonstrated echogenicity and are under evaluation as ultrasound contrast agents. Actively targeted ultrasound relies on specially designed contrast agents to localize the targeted molecular signature or physiologic system. These agents typically remain within the vascular space, and therefore possible targets include molecular markers on thrombus, endothelial cells, and leukocytes. The purpose of this review is to summarize the requirements, challenges, current progress, and future directions of targeted imaging with ultrasound.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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