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Getting Up Close And Personal With Microbubbles

courtesy Dr. Paul Grayburn

Since microbubbles are smaller than half the size of a red blood cell, seeing them with the naked eye isn’t an option. But Dr. Jonathan Lindner was able to capture and enhance the image of microbubbles moving through capillaries in the body.

Microbubbles are frequently used to enhance the clarity of ultrasounds, especially of the heart. Because the ribcage can obscure the heart as can conditions like obesity or lung disease, it isn’t always easy to get a clear cardiac picture. The picture on top shows a traditional cardiac ultrasound. The picture on the bottom is an ultrasound with microbubble enhancement. As you can see, it is much easier to see the heart when bubbles come into play.

Another ultrasound advance with military roots is High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, or HIFU. It was intended to stop internal bleeding on the battlefield, but is now used to melt away certain kinds of tumors. Baylor’s Dr. Paul Grayburn explains.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.