One of the mechanisms often suggested for the biological action of ultrasonic beams irradiating human tissues is concerned with the presence in the tissues of minute gaseous bubbles which may, under the influence of the ultrasonic field be stimulated to grow to a size at which resonance or collapse occurs with severe associated shear stresses. The evidence for the existence of microbubbles in tissues is reviewed. The results of calculations, using two existing theoretical models, of the peak pressure threshold as a function of frequency are presented. The frequency is normalized with the resonant frequency of the bubble, and results are presented for three bubble radii (1, 2, and 3.5 µm) and for different values of the gas concentration in the tissue between 0.1 and 1. The results from two models differ suggesting that an improved model and better experimental data for the threshold calculations would be appropriate for further calculations. The thresholds calculated range below the peak pressure amplitudes used in continuous wave diagnostic instruments, indicating the need for a more careful investigation both of this damage mechanism and of the exposures used in routine diagnosis. The results of calculations for typical (transient) exposure conditions from pulse-echo equipment are presented, indicating that rectified diffusion and stable cavitation are improbable phenomena in these circumstances.
Acoustical Society of America. Journal, 1981, Vol 69, Issue 3, p. 846-852