Campus Map

Bryan Cunitz

Engineer Senior






B.A. Physics, Colby College, 1999

B.S. Engineering, Dartmouth College, 2000

M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, 2005


Burst Wave Lithotripsy: An Experimental Method to Fragment Kidney Stones

CIMU researchers are investigating a noninvasive method to fragment kidney stones using ultrasound pulses rather than shock waves. Consecutive acoustic cycles accumulate and concentrate energy within the stone. The technique can be 'tuned' to create small fragments, potentially improving the success rate of lithotripsy procedures.

20 Nov 2014

SonoMotion: A Budding Start-up Company

A research team has developed new technologies to treat kidney stone disease with an ultrasound-based system. Embraced by clinicians, their advances are now being taken to the next step: transition the prototype to an approved device that will roll into hospitals and clinics around the world.

More Info

11 Feb 2013

At the Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound a team of scientists, engineers, and students has developed an ultrasound-based system that may provide an office procedure to speed the natural passage of kidney stones. The system uses commercial ultrasound components to locate stones in kidneys. It creates clear pictures of them and then applies an acoustic radiative force, repositioning stones in the kidney so they are more likely to pass naturally.

As a research team, considerable technical advancements have been made and valuable feedback and cooperation has been garnered from the user community – the clinicians. The scientists, engineers, urologists, and commercialization experts are now collaborating to take the next steps.

SonoMotion has partnered with a hardware manufacturing company and licensed the ultrasonic propulsion of kidney stones technology with the University of Washington. The next big step will be to transition the prototype system into one that will pass the rigors of FDA review and be ready to roll into hospitals and clinics around the world.

Center for Industrial and Medical Ultrasound - CIMU

CIMU is a group of scientists, engineers, and technicians dedicated to research across the field of bio-medical ultrasonics with the goal of developing technologies that will be used in a clinic to treat patients.

1 Nov 2010


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Noninvasive acoustic manipulation of objects in a living body

Ghanem, M.A., A.D. Maxwell, Y.-N. Wang, B.W. Cunitz, V.A. Khokhlova, O.A. Sopozhnikov, and M.R. Bailey, "Noninvasive acoustic manipulation of objects in a living body," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, EOR, doi:10.1073/pnas.2001779117, 2020.

More Info

6 Jul 2020

In certain medical applications, transmitting an ultrasound beam through the skin to manipulate a solid object within the human body would be beneficial. Such applications include, for example, controlling an ingestible camera or expelling a kidney stone. In this paper, ultrasound beams of specific shapes were designed by numerical modeling and produced using a phased array. These beams were shown to levitate and electronically steer solid objects (3-mm-diameter glass spheres), along preprogrammed paths, in a water bath, and in the urinary bladders of live pigs. Deviation from the intended path was on average <10%. No injury was found on the bladder wall or intervening tissue.

Evidence of microbubbles on kidney stones in humans

Simon, J.C., J.R. Holm, J. Thiel, B. Dunmire, B.W. Cunitz, and M.R. Bailey, "Evidence of microbubbles on kidney stones in humans," Ultrasound Med. Biol., 46, 1802-1807, doi:10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2020.02.010, 2020.

More Info

1 Jul 2020

The color Doppler ultrasound twinkling artifact has been found to improve detection of kidney stones with ultrasound; however, it appears on only ~60% of stones. Evidence from ex vivo kidney stones suggests twinkling arises from microbubbles stabilized in crevices on the stone surface. Yet it is unknown whether these bubbles are present on stones in humans. Here, we used a research ultrasound system to quantify twinkling in humans with kidney stones in a hyperbaric chamber. Eight human patients with non-obstructive kidney stones previously observed to twinkle were exposed to a maximum pressure of 4 atmospheres absolute (ATA) while breathing air, except during the 10-min pause at 1.6 ATA and while the pressure decreased to 1 ATA, during which patients breathed oxygen to minimize the risk of decompression sickness. A paired one-way t-test was used to compare the mean twinkle power at each pressure pause with baseline twinkling, with p < 0.05 considered to indicate significance. Results revealed that exposure to 3 and 4 ATA of pressure significantly reduced twinkle power by averages of 35% and 39%, respectively, in 7 patients (p = 0.04); data from the eighth patient were excluded because of corruption. This study supports the theory that microbubbles are present on kidney stones in humans.

Evaluation of renal stone comminution and injury by burst wave lithotripsy in a pig model

Maxwell, A.D., Y.-N. Wang, W. Kreider, B.W. Cunitz, F. Starr, D. Lee, Y. Nazari, J.C. Williams Jr., M.R. Bailey, and M.D. Sorensen, "Evaluation of renal stone comminution and injury by burst wave lithotripsy in a pig model," J. Endourol., 33, doi:10.1089/end.2018.0886, 2019.

More Info

15 Oct 2019

Burst wave lithotripsy is an experimental technology to noninvasively fragment kidney stones with focused bursts of ultrasound (US). This study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of specific lithotripsy parameters in a porcine model of nephrolithiasis.

A 6- to 7-mm human kidney stone was surgically implanted in each kidney of three pigs. A burst wave lithotripsy US transducer with an inline US imager was coupled to the flank and the lithotripter focus was aligned with the stone. Each stone was exposed to burst wave lithotripsy at 6.5 to 7 MPa focal pressure for 30 minutes under real-time image guidance. After treatment, the kidneys were removed for gross, histologic, and MRI assessment. Stone fragments were retrieved from the kidney to determine the mass comminuted to pieces <2 mm.

On average, 87% of the stone mass was reduced to fragments <2 mm. In three of five treatments, stones were completely comminuted to <2-mm fragments. In two of five treatments, stones were partially disintegrated, but larger fragments remained. One stone was not treated because no suitable acoustic window was identified. No injury was detected through gross, histologic, or MRI examination in the parenchymal tissue, although petechial damage and surface erosion were identified on the urothelium of the collecting system limited to the area around the stone.

Burst wave lithotripsy can consistently produce stone fragments small enough to spontaneously pass by transcutaneous administration of US pulses. The data suggest that such exposures produce minimal injury to the kidney and urinary tract.

More Publications


Broadly focused ultrasonic propulsion probes, systems, and methods

Disclosed herein are ultrasonic probes and systems incorporating the probes. The probes are configured to produce an ultrasonic therapy exposure that, when applied to a kidney stone, will exert an acoustic radiation force sufficient to produce ultrasonic propulsion. Unlike previous probes configured to produce ultrasonic propulsion, however, the disclosed probes are engineered to produce a relatively large (both wide and long) therapy region effective to produce ultrasonic propulsion. This large therapy region allows the probe to move a plurality of kidney stones (or fragments from lithotripsy) in parallel, thereby providing the user the ability to clear several stones from an area simultaneously. This "broadly focused" probe is, in certain embodiments, combined in a single handheld unit with a typical ultrasound imaging probe to produce real-time imaging. Methods of using the probes and systems to move kidney stones are also provided.

Patent Number: 10,667,831

Mike Bailey, Bryan Cunitz, Barbrina Dunmire, Adam Maxwell, Oren Levy


2 Jun 2020

Easy 3D Ultrasound Imaging and Volume Quantification

Record of Invention Number: 48367

Mike Bailey, Bryan Cunitz, Dan Leotta


28 May 2019

Noninvasive Fragmentation of Urinary Tract Stones with Focused Ultrasound

Patent Number: 10,251,657

Adam Maxwell, Mike Bailey, Bryan Cunitz, Wayne Kreider, Oleg Sapozhnikov

More Info


9 Apr 2019

Methods, computing devices, and a computer-readable medium are described herein related to fragmenting or comminuting an object in a subject using a burst wave lithotripsy (BWL) waveform. A computing device, such a computing device coupled to a transducer, may carry out functions for producing a BWL waveform. The computing device may determine a burst frequency for a number of bursts in the BWL waveform, where the number of bursts includes a number of cycles. Further, the computing device may determine a cycle frequency for the number of cycles. Yet further, the computing device may determine a pressure amplitude for the BWL waveform, where the pressure amplitude is less than or equal to 8 MPa. In addition, the computing device may determine a time period for producing the BWL waveform.

More Inventions

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center