An Affordable and Easy-to-Use Focused Ultrasound Device for Noninvasive and High Precision Drug Delivery to the Mouse Brain

Zhongtao Hu, Si Chen, Yaoheng Yang, Yan Gong, Hong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Focused ultrasound (FUS) combined with microbubble-mediated blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening (FUS-BBBO) is not only a promising technique for clinical applications but also a powerful tool for preclinical research. However, existing FUS devices for preclinical research are expensive, bulky, and lack the precision needed for small animal research, which limits the broad adoption of this promising technique by the research community. Our objective was to design and fabricate an affordable, easy-to-use, high-precision FUS device for small animal research. Methods: We designed and fabricated in-house mini-FUS transducers (∼80 each in material cost) with three frequencies (1.5, 3.0, and 6.0 MHz) and integrated them with a stereotactic frame for precise mouse brain targeting using established stereotactic procedures. The BBB opening volume by FUS at different acoustic pressures (0.20-0.57 MPa) was quantified using T1-weighted contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of gadolinium leakage and fluorescence imaging of Evans blue extravasation. Results: The targeting accuracy of the device as measured by the offset between the desired target location and the centroid of BBBO was 0.63 ± 0.19 mm. The spatial precision of the device in targeting individual brain structures was improved by the use of higher frequency FUS transducers. The BBB opening volume had high linear correlations with the cavitation index (defined by the ratio between acoustic pressure and frequency) and mechanical index (defined by the ratio between acoustic pressure and the square root of frequency). The correlation coefficient of the cavitation index was slightly higher than that of the mechanical index. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that spatially accurate and precise BBB opening was achievable using an affordable and easy-to-use FUS device. The BBB opening volume was tunable by modulating the cavitation index. This device is expected to decrease the barriers to the adoption of the FUS-BBBO technique by the broad research community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2723-2732
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Focused ultrasound
  • blood-brain barrier
  • brain drug delivery
  • cavitation index
  • mechanical index


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