Shell waves and acoustic scattering from ultrasound contrast agents

John S. Allen, Dustin E. Kruse, Katherine W. Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Ultrasound contrast agents are encapsulated microbubbles, filled either with air or a higher weight molecular gas, ranging in size from 1 to 10 μm in diameter. The agents are modeled as air-filled spherical elastic shells of variable thickness and material properties. The scattered acoustic field is computed from a modal series solution, and reflectivity and angular scattering are then determined from the computed fields for agents of various properties. We show that contrast agents also support shell resonance responses in addition to the monopole response, which has been the focus of previous contrast agent studies. Lamb waves appear to be the source of these additional responses. A shell or curvature Lamb wave generates dipole peaks in the 1- to 40-MHz range for 2.5 to 3.5 μm radius agents with elastic properties approximating those of albumin protein. The inclusion of damping affects the lower frequency dipole peaks but is less important for responses occurring above approximately 30 MHz. Moreover, these responses hold untapped potential for clinical ultrasound applications such as tissue perfusion studies and high frequency contrast agent imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-418
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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