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Contrast Agents used in Ultrasound

Ultrasound contrast agents are gas-filled micro-bubbles which are injected into the blood stream. Micro-bubbles will give increased backscatter signal due to the large acoustic impedance mismatch between the gas-filled bubble and surrounding tissue

Micro-bubble suspension is injected intravenously into the systemic circulation in a small bolus. The micro-bubbles will remain in the systemic circulation for a certain period of time. Ultrasound waves are directed on the area of interest and when the micro-bubbles in the blood flow pass the imaging window they give rise to increased signal. Also, these CM allows detection of blood flow where it would otherwise not be seen.

Name Capsule Gas Bubble Size
LEVOVIST Palmitic acid Air 3-5 mm
SONOVIST Cyano-acrylate Air 2 mm
DEFINITY Lipid Perfluoropropane 2 mm
OPTISON Albumin Octafluoropropane 3.7 mm
SONOVUE Phospholipids SF6 2-3 mm
SONAZOID Surfactant Fluorocarbon 3.2 mm
ALBUNEX Albumin Air 4 mm


The author is a Radiologic Technologist, currently in the academic field, hoping to mold and produce future Radiologic Technologists who will be theoretically and technologically competent.

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