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Vera Khokhlova

Senior Principal Engineer






M.S. Physics, Moscow State University, 1986

Ph.D. Acoustics, Moscow State University, 1991


Ultrasonic tweezers: Technology to lift and steer solid objects in a living body

In a recent paper, a CIMU team describes successful experiments to manipulate a solid object within a living body with ultrasound beams transmitted through the skin.

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15 Jul 2020

A collaborative, international research teams developed and tuned an ultrasound transducer to create vortex shaped beams that can trap, grab, levitate, and move in three dimensions mm-scale objects. The team is working to apply this technology to their all-in-one kidney stone treatment system that, in clinical trials, uses ultrasound to non-invasively break, erode, and move stones and stone fragments out of the kidney so that they may pass naturally from the body.

Mechanical Tissue Ablation with Focused Ultrasound

An experimental noninvasive surgery method uses nonlinear ultrasound pulses to liquefy tissue at remote target sites within a small focal region without damaging intervening tissues. A multi-institution, international team led by CIMU researchers is applying the method to the focal treatment of prostate tumors.

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19 Mar 2020

Boiling histotripsy utilizes sequences of millisecond-duration HIFU pulses with high-amplitude shocks that form at the focus by nonlinear propagation effects. Due to strong attenuation of the ultrasound energy at the shocks, these nonlinear waves rapidly heat tissue and generate millimeter-sized boiling bubbles at the focus within each pulse. Then the further interaction of subsequent shocks with the vapor cavity causes tissue disintegration into subcellular debris through the acoustic atomization mechanism.

The method was proposed at APL-UW in collaboration with Moscow State University (Russia) and now is being evaluated for various clinical applications. It has particular promise because of its important clinical advantages: the treatment of tissue volumes can be accelerated while sparing adjacent structures and not injuring intervening tissues; it generates precisely controlled mechanical lesions with sharp margins; the method can be implemented in existing clinical systems; and it can be used with real-time ultrasound imaging for targeting, guidance, and evaluation of outcomes. In addition, compared to thermal ablation, BH may lead to faster resorption of the liquefied lesion contents.

Characterizing Medical Ultrasound Sources and Fields

For every medical ultrasound transducer it's important to characterize the field it creates, whether for safety of imaging or efficacy of therapy. CIMU researchers measure a 2D acoustic pressure distribution in the beam emanating from the source transducer and then reconstruct mathematically the exact field on the surface of the transducer and in the entire 3D space.

11 Sep 2017


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Impact of treatment trajectory on temperature field uniformity in biological tissue irradiated by ultrasound pulses with shocks

Pestova, P.A., M.M. Karzova, P.V. Yuldashev, W. Kreider, and V.A. Khokhlova, "Impact of treatment trajectory on temperature field uniformity in biological tissue irradiated by ultrasound pulses with shocks," Acoust. Phys., 67, 250-258, doi:10.1134/S106377102103012X, 2021.

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9 Nov 2021

High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) treatments typically involve the ablation of tissue volumes comprising multiple focal sites. One aspect of treatment planning involves the definition of a sequence of ultrasound pulses and corresponding focal sites as the sonication trajectory. Here, numerical simulations of the thermal effects of different trajectories are performed for HIFU exposures delivered to an ex vivo bovine liver sample by a clinical array (Sonalleve V2 3.0T system, Profound Medical Corp., Canada). Simulations consider boiling histotripsy regime with millisecond-long pulses that include shocks. Focusing of the ultrasound beam in tissue was modeled by the Westervelt equation, and the temperature field was modeled by the bioheat equation. To explore different treatment strategies, trajectories were considered with discrete foci located along two or four concentric circles with radii from 2 to 8 mm. Two approaches for traversing these focal sites were compared: In the first approach each discrete focus was sonicated by a sequence of 15 pulses before moving to the next site in the trajectory. In the second approach, each focus was sonicated once before moving to the next site, with sonications over the whole trajectory repeated 15 times. The influence of the trajectory’s size and the pulsing strategy on the temperature field was analyzed. It is shown that the structure of the temperature field is more uniform with a longer time interval between repeated irradiation of each focus, and the optimal time interval ranges from three to six pulse repetition periods.

'HIFU Beam' A simulator for predicting axially symmetric nonlinear acoustic fields generated by focused transducers in a layered medium

Yuldashev, P.V., M.M. Karzova, W. Kreider, P.B. Rosnitskiy, O.A. Sapozhnikov, and V.A. Khokhlova, "'HIFU Beam' A simulator for predicting axially symmetric nonlinear acoustic fields generated by focused transducers in a layered medium," IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control, 68, 2837-2852, doi:10.1109/TUFFC.2021.3074611, 2021.

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1 Sep 2021

'HIFU beam' is a freely available software tool that comprises a MATLAB toolbox combined with a user-friendly interface and binary executable compiled from FORTRAN source code ( HIFU beam . (2021). Available: http://limu.msu.ru/node/3555?language=en ). It is designed for simulating high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) fields generated by single-element transducers and annular arrays with propagation in flat-layered media that mimic biological tissues. Numerical models incorporated in the simulator include evolution-type equations, either the Khokhlov–Zabolotskaya–Kuznetsov (KZK) equation or one-way Westervelt equation, for radially symmetric ultrasound beams in homogeneous and layered media with thermoviscous or power-law acoustic absorption. The software uses shock-capturing methods that allow for simulating strongly nonlinear acoustic fields with high-amplitude shocks. In this article, a general description of the software is given along with three representative simulation cases of ultrasound transducers and focusing conditions typical for therapeutic applications. The examples illustrate major nonlinear wave effects in HIFU fields including shock formation. Two examples simulate propagation in water, involving a single-element source (1-MHz frequency, 100-mm diameter, 90-mm radius of curvature) and a 16-element annular array (3-MHz frequency, 48-mm diameter, and 35-mm radius of curvature). The third example mimics the scenario of a HIFU treatment in a "water-muscle-kidney" layered medium using a source typical for abdominal HIFU applications (1.2-MHz frequency, 120-mm diameter, and radius of curvature). Linear, quasi-linear, and shock-wave exposure protocols are considered. It is intended that 'HIFU beam' can be useful in teaching nonlinear acoustics; designing and characterizing high-power transducers; and developing exposure protocols for a wide range of therapeutic applications such as shock-based HIFU, boiling histotripsy, drug delivery, immunotherapy, and others.

Inertial cavitation behaviors induced by nonlinear focused ultrasound pulses

Bawiec, C.R., P.B. Rosnitskiy, A.T. Peek, A.D. Maxwell, W. Kreider, G.R. Ter Haar, O.A. Sapozhnikov, V.A. Khokhlova, and T.D. Khokhlova, "Inertial cavitation behaviors induced by nonlinear focused ultrasound pulses," IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control, 68, 2884-2895, doi:10.1109/TUFFC.2021.3073347, 2021.

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1 Sep 2021

Inertial cavitation induced by pulsed high-intensity focused ultrasound (pHIFU) has previously been shown to successfully permeabilize tumor tissue and enhance chemotherapeutic drug uptake. In addition to HIFU frequency, peak rarefactional pressure, and pulse duration, the threshold for cavitation-induced bioeffects has recently been correlated with asymmetric distortion caused by nonlinear propagation, diffraction and formation of shocks in the focal waveform, and therefore with the transducer F-number. To connect previously observed bioeffects with bubble dynamics and their attendant physical mechanisms, the dependence of inertial cavitation behavior on shock formation was investigated in transparent agarose gel phantoms using high-speed photography and passive cavitation detection (PCD). Agarose phantoms with concentrations ranging from 1.5% to 5% were exposed to 1-ms pulses using three transducers of the same aperture but different focal distances (F-numbers of 0.77, 1.02, and 1.52). Pulses had central frequencies of 1, 1.5, or 1.9 MHz and a range of peak rarefactional pressure at the focus varying within 1–18 MPa. Three distinct categories of bubble behavior were observed as the acoustic power increased: stationary near-spherical oscillation of individual bubbles, proliferation of multiple bubbles along the pHIFU beam axis, and fanned-out proliferation toward the transducer. Proliferating bubbles were only observed under strongly nonlinear or shock-forming conditions regardless of frequency, and only where the bubbles reached a certain threshold size range. In stiffer gels with higher agarose concentrations, the same pattern of cavitation behavior was observed, but the dimensions of proliferating clouds were smaller. These observations suggest mechanisms that may be involved in bubble proliferation: enhanced growth of bubbles under shock-forming conditions, subsequent shock scattering from the gel–bubble interface, causing an increase in the repetitive tension created by the acoustic wave, and the appearance of a new growing bubble in the proximal direction. Different behaviors corresponded to specific spectral characteristics in the PCD signals: broadband noise in all cases, narrow peaks of backscattered harmonics in the case of stationary bubbles, and broadened, shifted harmonic peaks in the case of proliferating bubbles. The shift in harmonic peaks can be interpreted as a Doppler shift from targets moving at speeds of up to 2 m/s, which correspond to the observed bubble proliferation speeds.

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MRI-Feedback Control of Ultrasound Based Mechanical Fractionation of Biological Tissue

Patent Number: 11,224,356

Wayne Kreider, Vera Khokhlova

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18 Jan 2022

Disclosed herein are example embodiments of devices, systems, and methods for mechanical fractionation of biological tissue using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) feedback control. The examples may involve displaying an image representing first MRI data corresponding to biological tissue, and receiving input identifying one or more target regions of the biological tissue to be mechanically fractionated via exposure to first ultrasound waves. The examples may further involve applying the first ultrasound waves and, contemporaneous to or after applying the first ultrasound waves, acquiring second MRI data corresponding to the biological tissue. The examples may also involve determining, based on the second MRI data, one or more second parameters for applying second ultrasound waves to the biological tissue, and applying the second ultrasound waves to the biological tissue according to the one or more second parameters.

Method and System for MRI-based Targeting, Monitoring, and Quantification of Thermal and Mechanical Bioeffects in Tissue Induced by High Intensity Focused Ultrasound

Example embodiments of system and method for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for planning, real-time monitoring, control, and post-treatment assessment of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) mechanical fractionation of biological material are disclosed. An adapted form of HIFU, referred to as "boiling histotripsy" (BH), can be used to cause mechanical fractionation of biological material. In contrast to conventional HIFU, which cause pure thermal ablation, BH can generate therapeutic destruction of biological tissue with a degree of control and precision that allows the process to be accurately measured and monitored in real-time as well as the outcome of the treatment can be evaluated using a variety of MRI techniques. Real-time monitoring also allow for real-time control of BH.

Patent Number: 10,694,974

Vera Khokhlova, Wayne Kreider, Adam Maxwell, Yak-Nam Wang, Mike Bailey


30 Jun 2020

Systems and Methods for Measuring Pressure Distributions of Acoustic Beams from Ultrasound Sources

The present technology relates generally to receiving arrays to measure a characteristic of an acoustic beam and associated systems and methods.

Patent Number: 10,598,773

Oleg Sapozhnikov, Wayne Kreider, Adam Maxwell, Vera Khokhlova

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24 Mar 2020

The present technology relates generally to receiving arrays to measure a characteristic of an acoustic beam and associated systems and methods. The receiving arrays can include elongated elements having at least one dimension, such as a length, that is larger than a width of an emitted acoustic beam and another dimension, such as a width, that is smaller than half of a characteristic wavelength of an ultrasound wave. The elongated elements can be configured to capture waveform measurements of the beam based on a characteristic of the emitted acoustic beam as the acoustic beam crosses a plane of the array, such as a transverse plane. The methods include measuring at least one characteristic of an ultrasound source using an array-based acoustic holography system and defining a measured hologram at the array surface based, at least in part, on the waveform measurements. The measured hologram can be processed to reconstruct a characteristic of the ultrasound source. The ultrasound source can be calibrated and/or re-calibrated based on the characteristic.

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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