Ultrasound contrast imaging, also known as acoustic imaging, is a diagnostic ultrasound imaging technology that enhances the scattering signals of blood flow in the body by injecting ultrasound contrast agents during a routine ultrasound examination. It allows for the real-time dynamic observation of the microvascular perfusion of tissues, which improves the detection rate of lesions and assists with distinguishing between benign and malignant tumors.
Mobile ultrasound device makes the imaging process very short in duration, taking only about 5-10 minutes to complete. This technology is a non-invasive and non-ionizing radiation imaging technique. Although enhanced CT and MRI are becoming more common and can achieve accurate diagnoses in many cases, they cannot replace ultrasound contrast imaging entirely due to its unique advantages.
Unlike static CT and MRI, the greatest feature of ultrasound contrast imaging is its real-time and dynamic display, which allows for the observation of the entire process of blood perfusion in lesions. It can also be played back repeatedly, assisting doctors in distinguishing lesions and detecting more small lesions (especially sub-centimeter tumor lesions), especially in observing changes in microcirculation over a short period of time.
Although enhanced CT and MR require a brief pause to scan images, the blood flow perfusion may change even in a fraction of a second. These changes are particularly important for the differential diagnosis of small, poorly vascularized space-occupying lesions, which CT and MR cannot detect sensitively.
Mobile ultrasound device imaging is achieved by using ultrasound waves to visualize tissues, which are also a type of sound wave; therefore, there is no radiation hazard. The contrast agent used in ultrasound contrast imaging has a small dose and contains minimal substances that can cause allergic reactions or liver and kidney toxicity. The contrast agent is mainly metabolized by the lungs, making it particularly suitable for patients with liver or kidney dysfunction and those with liver and kidney transplants or acute pancreatitis.
Due to the lack of X-ray radiation, ultrasound contrast imaging can be checked immediately, even during surgery, and can be repeated multiple times with a portable ultrasound probe in a short period of time. It is fast, easy, and has strong real-time performance, making it safer and more practical in real-time interventional therapy. Since the cost of B-mode ultrasound examination is relatively low, it can be repeated in the short term.
Ultrasound contrast imaging is widely used clinically and can be performed wherever routine ultrasound can be applied, such as:
Qualitative diagnosis of focal lesions;
suspected lesions detected by routine ultrasound or other imaging examinations that cannot be clearly depicted on routine ultrasound can be increased in sensitivity by ultrasound contrast imaging for making a more accurate diagnosis or conducting tissue biopsy and interventional treatment under CEUS guidance;
Evaluation of tumor interventional therapy;
Diagnosis of trauma;
Others, such as echocardiography, vascular ultrasound imaging, and hysterosalpingography (used to detect lesions or deformities of the uterine cavity, fallopian tubes, and to evaluate fallopian tube patency).
Ultrasound contrast imaging can improve the resolution of two-dimensional images and the sensitivity of identifying fine structures and blood flow perfusion by contrast agent imaging, significantly increasing the accuracy of diagnosis.