Subharmonic contrast microbubble signals for noninvasive pressure estimation under static and dynamic flow conditions

Valgerdur G. Halldorsdottir, Jaydev K. Dave, Lauren M. Leodore, John R. Eisenbrey, Suhyun Park, Anne L. Hall, Thomenius Kai, Flemming Forsberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Our group has proposed the concept of subharmonic aided pressure estimation (SHAPE) utilizing microbubble-based ultrasound contrast agent signals for the noninvasive estimation of hydrostatic blood pressures. An experimental system for in vitro SHAPE was constructed based on two single-element transducers assembled confocally at a 60° angle to each other. Changes in the first, second and subharmonic amplitudes of five different ultrasound contrast agents were measured in vitro at static hydrostatic pressures from 0-186 mmHg, acoustic pressures from 0.35-0.60 MPa peak-to-peak and frequencies of 2.5-6.6 MHz. The most sensitive agent and optimal parameters for SHAPE were determined using linear regression analysis and implemented on a Logiq 9 scanner (GE Healthcare, Milwaukee, WI). This implementation of SHAPE was then tested under dynamic-flow conditions and compared to pressure-catheter measurements. Over the pressure range studied, the first and second harmonic amplitudes reduced approximately 2 dB for all contrast agents. Over the same pressure range, the subharmonic amplitudes decreased by 9-14 dB and excellent linear regressions were achieved with the hydrostatic pressure variations (r = 0.98,p < 0.001). Optimal sensitivity was achieved at a transmit frequency of 2.5 MHz and acoustic pressure of 0.35 MPa using Sonazoid (GE Healthcare, Oslo, Norway). A Logiq 9 scanner was modified to implement SHAPE on a convex transducer with a frequency range from 1.5-4.5 MHz and acoustic pressures from 0-3.34 MPa. Results matched the pressure catheter (r2 = 0.87). In conclusion, subharmonic contrast signals are a good indicator of hydrostatic pressure. Out of the five ultrasound contrast agents tested, Sonazoid was the most sensitive for subharmonic pressure estimation. Real-time SHAPE has been implemented on a commercial scanner and offers the possibility of allowing pressures in the heart and elsewhere to be obtained noninvasively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalUltrasonic Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Pressure estimation
  • Subharmonic signals
  • Ultrasound contrast agents


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