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Radiology. 2001 Sep;220(3):640-6.

Noninvasive MR imaging-guided focal opening of the blood-brain barrier in rabbits.

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Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis St, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



To determine if focused ultrasound beams can be used to locally open the blood-brain barrier without damage to surrounding brain tissue and if magnetic resonance (MR) imaging can be used to monitor this procedure.


The brains of 18 rabbits were sonicated (pulsed sonication) in four to six locations, with temporal peak acoustic power ranging from 0.2 to 11.5 W. Prior to each sonication, a bolus of ultrasonographic (US) contrast agent was injected into the ear vein of the rabbit. A series of fast or spoiled gradient-echo MR images were obtained during the sonications to monitor the temperature elevation and potential tissue changes. Contrast material-enhanced MR images obtained minutes after sonications and repeated 1-48 hours later were used to depict blood-brain barrier opening. Whole brain histologic evaluation was performed.


Opening of the blood-brain barrier was confirmed with detection of MR imaging contrast agent at the targeted locations. The lowest power levels used produced blood-brain barrier opening without damage to the surrounding neurons. Contrast enhancement correlated with the focal signal intensity changes in the magnitude fast spoiled gradient-echo MR images.


The blood-brain barrier can be consistently opened with focused ultrasound exposures in the presence of a US contrast agent. MR imaging signal intensity changes may be useful in the detection of blood-brain barrier opening during sonication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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