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The application of focused ultrasound (FUS) in conjunction with intravenously injected microbubbles has been shown capable of non-invasively opening the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in a localized and transient manner, enabling targeted drug delivery to the central nervous system. There are risks associated with exposing microbubbles within the vasculature system to ultrasound. For example, if the acoustic pressure amplitude is too large the bubbles will undergo inertial collapse, which can be associated with an increase in the number of extravasated red blood cells, apoptosis, and even haemorrhage in extreme conditions.
Researchers in our lab have recently completed fabrication of a 256-element dual-mode ultrasound phased array system capable of ultrasound therapy delivery. It is hypothesized that the development of a system to spatially map microbubble activity in real-time during FUS-induced BBB opening will make such procedures more practical by providing a robust method for treatment monitoring and control. However, the localized monitoring aspect of the control system described above has not been implemented as there is no commercial product available that can collect pre-beamformed data from 256 ultrasonic channels and transfer it to a control computer in real time. In order to address this issue, a new 256 channel data acquisition system was designed to capture subharmonic reflections from ultrasonic pulses generated during blood brain barrier opening therapy. This will be integrated into future clinical BBB disruption machines to allow for therapy monitoring.