Delivering Focused Ultrasound to Intervertebral Discs Using Time-Reversal.


Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Chronic low back pain causes more disability worldwide than any other condition and is thought to arise in part through loss of biomechanical function of degenerate intervertebral discs (IVDs). Current treatments can involve replacing part or all of the degenerate IVDs by invasive surgery. Our vision is to develop a minimally invasive approach in which high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) is used to mechanically fractionate degenerate tissue in an IVD; a fine needle is then used to first remove the fractionated tissue and then inject a biomaterial able to restore normal physiologic function. The goal of this manuscript is to demonstrate the feasibility of trans-spinal HIFU delivery using simulations of 3-D ultrasound propagation in models derived from patient computed tomography (CT) scans. The CT data were segmented into bone, fat and other soft tissue for three patients. Ultrasound arrays were placed around the waist of each patient model, and time-reversal was used to determine the source signals necessary to create a focus in the center of the disc. The simulations showed that for 0.5 MHz ultrasound, a focus could be created in most of the lumbar IVDs, with the pressure focal gain ranging from 3.2-13.7. In conclusion, it is shown that with patient-specific planning, focusing ultrasound into an IVD is possible in the majority of patients despite the complex acoustic path introduced by the bony structures of the spine.


Chronic low back pain,Full wave modelling,Time-reversal,Trans-spinal HIFU,

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