Scientists have developed a new surgical tool that uses low-frequency ultrasound to break down blood clots, an advance that will significantly reduce treatment time. "Our new ultrasound tool is forward-facing, like a drill, but still breaks down clots into very fine particles," said Xiaoning Jiang, professor at North Carolina State University in the US.
The surgical tool uses low-frequency intravascular ultrasound to break down blood clots that cause deep vein thrombosis. It is the first ultrasound "drill" that can be aimed straight ahead, allowing doctors to better target clots - which holds promise for significantly reducing treatment time.
The tool also incorporates an injection tube that allows users to inject microbubbles at the site of the clot, making the ultrasound waves more effective at breaking down the clot. "Our approach improves accuracy without relying on high doses of blood thinners, which we hope will reduce risks across the board," Jiang said.
Researchers tested a prototype of the device in a synthetic blood vessel using cow's blood. They were able to dissolve 90 per cent of a clot in 3.5 to 4 hours without using any blood thinners at all.
"That is compared to 10 hours for the combination of conventional ultrasound tools and blood thinners," said Jinwook Kim, a PhD student in Jiang's lab. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.