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Br J Cancer. 1997;76(10):1308-14.

Use of power Doppler ultrasound-guided biopsies to locate regions of tumour hypoxia.

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The School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether power Doppler ultrasound techniques could be used to direct biopsies into tumour regions with relatively low red blood cell flux, and therefore preferentially sample regions that were relatively hypoxic. Subcutaneous 9L glioma rat tumours were biopsied using power Doppler ultrasound guidance. Immunohistochemical detection of the 2-nitroimidazole EF5 was performed to determine the presence and level of hypoxia in the biopsy samples. Comparisons between the power Doppler-determined red blood cell flux and EF5 binding were made. In seven out of eight tumours studied, power Doppler ultrasound allowed differentiation of a relatively hypoxic region from a relatively oxic region by localizing relatively low vs high red blood cell flux areas respectively. In one of these seven tumours, RBC flux was high in both biopsied sites and hypoxia was not present in either. In two of these seven tumours, hypoxia was present in each biopsy and both of the red blood cell flux measurements were low. In the eighth tumour, both the EF5 binding and the red blood cell flux measurements were low. In this tumour, low EF5 binding was due to the dominance of necrotic cells, which will not reduce or bind EF5 in the biopsy specimen. Using EF5-binding techniques, we have confirmed that regions of relatively low red blood cell flux are more hypoxic than those with relatively high red blood cell flux. Counterstaining specimens with haematoxylin and eosin allows differentiation of low EF5-binding regions due to oxia vs necrosis. These methods have clinical implications for the expanded use of power Doppler ultrasound as a means to direct tissue sampling when it is important to identify the presence of hypoxia.

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