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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.

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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

First in-human burst wave lithotripsy for kidney stone comminution: Initial two case studies

Harper, J.D., I. Metzler, M.K. Hall, T.T. Chen, A.D. Maxwell, B.W. Cunitz, B. Dunmire, J. Thiel, J.C. Williams, M.R. Bailey, and M.D. Sorensen, "First in-human burst wave lithotripsy for kidney stone comminution: Initial two case studies," J. Endourol., EOR, doi:10.1089/end.2020.0725, 2020.

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1 Nov 2020

Purpose: To test the effectiveness (Participant A) and tolerability (Participant B) of urinary stone comminution in the first in-human trial of a new technology, burst wave lithotripsy (BWL).

Materials and Methods: An investigational BWL and ultrasonic propulsion system was used to target a 7-mm kidney stone in the operating room before ureteroscopy (Participant A). The same system was used to target a 7.5 mm ureterovesical junction stone in clinic without anesthesia (Participant B).

Results: For Participant A, a ureteroscope inserted after 9 minutes of BWL observed fragmentation of the stone to < 2 mm fragments. Participant B tolerated the procedure without pain from BWL, required no anesthesia, and passed the stone on day 15.

Conclusions: The first in-human tests of BWL pulses were successful in that a renal stone was comminuted in < 10 minutes, and BWL was also tolerated by an awake subject for a distal ureteral stone.

In vitro evaluation of urinary stone comminution with a clinical burst wave lithotripsy system

Ramesh, S., T.T. Chen, A.D. Maxwell, B.W. Cunitz, B. Dunmire, J. Thiel, J.C. Williams, A. Gardner, Z. Liu, I. Metzler, J.D. Harper, M.D. Sorensen, and M.R. Bailey, "In vitro evaluation of urinary stone comminution with a clinical burst wave lithotripsy system," J. Endourol., 34, 1167-1173, doi:10.1089/end.2019.0873, 2020.

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1 Nov 2020

Objective: Our goals were to validate stone comminution with an investigational burst wave lithotripsy (BWL) system in patient-relevant conditions and to evaluate the use of ultrasonic propulsion to move a stone or fragments to aid in observing the treatment endpoint.

Materials and Methods: The Propulse-1 system, used in clinical trials of ultrasonic propulsion and upgraded for BWL trials, was used to fragment 46 human stones (5–7 mm) in either a 15-mm or 4-mm diameter calix phantom in water at either 50% or 75% dissolved oxygen level. Stones were paired by size and composition, and exposed to 20-cycle, 390-kHz bursts at 6-MPa peak negative pressure (PNP) and 13-Hz pulse repetition frequency (PRF) or 7-MPa PNP and 6.5-Hz PRF. Stones were exposed in 5-minute increments and sieved, with fragments >2 mm weighed and returned for additional treatment. Effectiveness for pairs of conditions was compared statistically within a framework of survival data analysis for interval censored data. Three reviewers blinded to the experimental conditions scored ultrasound imaging videos for degree of fragmentation based on stone response to ultrasonic propulsion.

Results: Overall, 89% (41/46) and 70% (32/46) of human stones were fully comminuted within 30 and 10 minutes, respectively. Fragments remained after 30 minutes in 4% (1/28) of calcium oxalate monohydrate stones and 40% (4/10) of brushite stones. There were no statistically significant differences in comminution time between the two output settings (p = 0.44), the two dissolved oxygen levels (p = 0.65), or the two calyx diameters (p = 0.58). Inter-rater correlation on endpoint detection was substantial (Fleiss' kappa = 0.638, p < 0.0001), with individual reviewer sensitivities of 95%, 86%, and 100%.

Conclusions: Eighty-nine percent of human stones were comminuted with a clinical BWL system within 30 minutes under conditions intended to reflect conditions in vivo. The results demonstrate the advantage of using ultrasonic propulsion to disperse fragments when making a visual determination of breakage endpoint from the real-time ultrasound image.

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, 117, 16,848-16,855, doi:10.1073/pnas.2001779117, 2020.

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21 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.

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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

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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