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Design and development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compatible tissue mimicking phantoms for evaluating focused ultrasound thermal protocols

Menikou, G. (2017). Design and development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compatible tissue mimicking phantoms for evaluating focused ultrasound thermal protocols. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Animal models are often used to test the efficacy and safety of clinical applications employing focused ultrasound that range in various stages of research, development and commercialization. The animals are usually subjected to conditions that cause pain, distress and euthanasia. Access to cadaveric models is not easy and affordable for all research institutions, whereas conservation and changes of their physical properties over time can be a delimiting factor for translational research. The above set the motivation for this project, which its primary objective is to design and develop appropriate tissue mimicking phantoms using a simplistic and cost effective methodology. These phantoms are expected to contribute in reducing the need for animal testing and allow researchers to get hands experience with tools that will promote and accelerate testing in focused ultrasound thermal protocols. The main requirements for these phantoms are to be geometrically accurate, compatible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and to be composed of materials that approximate the acoustic and thermal properties of the replicated tissues.

Throughout the duration of the project three ultrasonic composite phantoms (head, femur bone-muscle and breast-rib) were developed. The acoustic properties of candidate materials were assessed using pulse-echo immersion and through transmission techniques. The thermal properties were estimated by observing the rate of heat diffusion following a sonication in the soft tissue parts with MR thermometry. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) was used to replicate bone tissue, where its acoustic attenuation coefficient was found to be 16.01 ± 6.18 dB/cm at 1 MHz and the speed of sound at 2048 ± 79 m/s. Soft tissue parts consisted out of agar-based gels doped with varying concentrations of additives that controlled the relative contribution of acoustic absorption (evaporated milk) and scatter (silica dioxide) to total attenuation independently. Brain tissue phantom (2 % w/v agar - 1.2 % w/v SiO2 - 25 % v/v evaporated milk) matched an attenuation coefficient of 0.59 ± 0.05 dB/cm-MHz whereas muscle and breast mimicking phantom (2 % w/v agar - 2 % w/v SiO2 - 40 % v/v evaporated milk) were estimated of inducing an attenuation coefficient of the order of 0.99 ±0.08 dB/cm-MHz. The speed of sound for the brain and muscle/breast recipe were estimated at 1485 ± 12 m/s and 1529 ± 13 m/s respectively. The thermal conductivity of the brain phantom was estimated to be 0.52 ± 0.06 W/mº-C and 0.57 ± 0.10 W/mº-C for the muscle/breast phantom. The acoustic and thermal properties of candidate materials were within range of the replicated tissues extracted from literature, except the speed of sound in ABS compared which was lower compared to bone (~3000 m/s).

Three dimensional models of bone parts (skull, femur, rib) were reconstructed in Standard Tessellation Language (STL) format by segmenting bony tissue of interest from adult human computed tomography (CT) images. The STL bone models were 3D printed in ABS using a fused deposition modelling (FDM) machine. The final composite phantoms were fabricated by molding the agar based soft tissue phantoms inside/around the ABS bone phantoms. The functionality of all three composite phantoms was assessed with focused ultrasound sonications applied by a 1 MHz single element transducer while temperature was monitored with 1.5 Tesla MRI scanner. A spoiled gradient recalled (SPGR) pulse sequence was used to produce phase images that were analyzed using a custom coded software developed in Matlab that employed proton-resonance frequency shift (PRFS) thermometry.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher Keywords: focused ultrasound, MRI, phantoms, PRFS thermometry, skull, brain, breast, rib, bone
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Science & Technology > Engineering
School of Science & Technology > School of Science & Technology Doctoral Theses
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