The development of ultrasound contrast agents, containing encapsulated microbubbles, has increased the possibilities for diagnostic imaging. Ultrasound contrast agents are currently used to enhance left ventricular opacification, increase Doppler signal intensity, and in myocardial perfusion imaging. Diagnostic imaging with contrast agents is performed with low acoustic pressure using non-linear reflection of ultrasound waves by microbubbles. Ultrasound causes bubble destruction, which lowers the threshold for cavitation, resulting in microstreaming and increased permeability of cell membranes. Interestingly, this mechanism can be used for delivery of drugs or genes into tissue. Microbubbles have been shown to be capable of carrying drugs and genes, and destruction of the bubbles will result in local release of their contents. Recent studies demonstrated the potential of microbubbles and ultrasound in thrombolysis. In this article, we will review the recent advances of microbubbles as a vehicle for delivery of drugs and genes, and discuss possible therapeutic applications in thrombolysis.

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European Journal of Echocardiography
Department of Cardiology

Dijkmans, P., Juffermans, L., Musters, R., van Wamel, A., ten Cate, F., van Gilst, W., … Kamp, O. (2004). Microbubbles and ultrasound: From diagnosis to therapy. European Journal of Echocardiography (Vol. 5, pp. 245–256). doi:10.1016/j.euje.2004.02.001