Modelling of magnetic microbubbles to evaluate contrast enhanced magneto-motive ultrasound in lymph nodes – a pre-clinical study

Sandra Sjöstrand, Marion Bacou, Katarzyna Kaczmarek, Maria Evertsson, Ingrid K Svensson, Adrian JW Thomson, Susan M Farrington, Susan J Moug, Tomas Jansson, Carmel Moran, Helen Mulvana

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OBJECTIVES: Despite advances in MRI the detection and characterisation of lymph nodes in rectal cancer remains complex, especially when assessing the response to neoadjuvant treatment. An alternative approach is functional imaging, previously shown to aid characterisation of cancer tissues. We report proof of concept of the novel technique Contrast-Enhanced Magneto-Motive Ultrasound (CE-MMUS) to recover information relating to local perfusion and lymphatic drainage, and interrogate tissue mechanical properties through magnetically induced deformations. METHODS: The feasibility of the proposed application was explored using a combination of experimental animal and phantom ultrasound imaging, along with finite element analysis. First, contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging on one wild type mouse recorded lymphatic drainage of magnetic microbubbles after bolus injection. Second, tissue phantoms were imaged using MMUS to illustrate the force- and elasticity dependence of the magnetomotion. Third, the magnetomechanical interactions of a magnetic microbubble with an elastic solid were simulated using finite element software. RESULTS: Accumulation of magnetic microbubbles in the inguinal lymph node was verified using contrast enhanced ultrasound, with peak enhancement occurring 3.7 s post-injection. The magnetic microbubble gave rise to displacements depending on force, elasticity, and bubble radius, indicating an inverse relation between displacement and the latter two. CONCLUSION: Combining magnetic microbubbles with MMUS could harness the advantages of both techniques, to provide perfusion information, robust lymph node delineation and characterisation based on mechanical properties. ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: (a) Lymphatic drainage of magnetic microbubbles visualised using contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging and (b) magnetomechanical interactions between such bubbles and surrounding tissue could both contribute to (c) robust detection and characterisation of lymph nodes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20211128
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number1135
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2022


  • MRI
  • lymph nodes
  • rectal cancer
  • neo-adjuvant treatment
  • Contrast-Enhanced Magneto-Motive Ultrasound (CE-MMUS)
  • functional imaging
  • magnetic mircobubbles


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