Development of heat-sensitive microbubbles for cancer ablation margin assessment


Thermal ablation processes hold the promise of less invasive cancer management. But broader acceptance of cancer ablation processes is hindered by controversial issues and concerns due to the lack of effective assessment of the ablation margin during surgery. We developed heat-sensitive microbubbles for ablation margin assessment during a cancer ablation surgery. The heat-sensitive microbubbles, which comprise a core of liquid perfluorocarbons (PFC) within a biodegradable poly lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) shell, were fabricated using an emulsion evaporation method. Optical microscopic imaging showed that, at the boiling point of PFC (55ºC), the microbubbles expanded from 1 µm to 20 µm due to PFC evaporation. Additionally, the microbubbles were embedded in a tissue simulating phantom made of agar-agar gel for ultrasound imaging. At room temperature, the microbubbles were not detected by the ultrasound. After being evenly heated to 55 ºC for 10 minutes, the microbubbles were clearly visualized by the ultrasound. These results demonstrate that the heat sensitive microbubbles can be potentially utilized as an ultrasound contrast agent for thermal ablation margin assessment. Successful implementation of these heat-sensitive microbubbles may enhance the accuracy for cancer ablation and revolutionize the clinical practice of cancer management. Keywords

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