Microbubbles are miniature gas bubbles, mostly containing oxygen or air, which can be uniformly suspended in a liquid such as blood. Due to their size, they can pass through even the smallest of blood vessels, and therefore are commonly used together with medical ultrasound imaging. Microbubbles reflect ultrasound better than blood or soft tissues, thus allowing them to be used for highlighting blood in ultrasound images. Until now, their common use was only as contrast agents.
There is still a long way to go before this technology can be put into practice in hospitals and used on a daily basis. Philips is not alone in developing this groundbreaking technology; the company is collaborating with several academic partners, including the University of Virginia (USA) and the University of Muenster (Germany) as well as Clinical institutions, such as The Methodist Hospital in Houston (USA), who are also actively researching the field of ultrasound mediated drug delivery.