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Adam Maxwell

Research Assistant Professor, Urology






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.

PIXUL: PIXelated ULtrasound Speeds Disease Biomarker Search

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26 Apr 2018

Accurate assessment of chromatin modifications can be used to improve detection and treatment of various diseases. Further, accurate assessment of chromatin modifications can have an important role in designing new drug therapies. This novel technology applies miniature ultrasound transducers to shear chromatin in standard 96-well microplates. PIXUL saves researchers hours of sample preparation time and reduces sample degradation.

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2000-present and while at APL-UW

Development of tough hydrogel phantoms to mimic fibrous tissue for focused ultrasound therapies

Kumar, Y.N., Z. Singh, Y.-N. Wang, G.R. Schade, W. Kreider, M. Bruce, E. Vlaisavljevich, T.D. Khokhlova, and A.D. Maxwell, "Development of tough hydrogel phantoms to mimic fibrous tissue for focused ultrasound therapies," Ultrasound Biol. Med., 48, 1762-1777, doi:10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2022.05.002, 2022.

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1 Sep 2022

Tissue-mimicking gels provide a cost-effective medium to optimize histotripsy treatment parameters with immediate feedback. Agarose and polyacrylamide gels are often used to evaluate treatment outcomes as they mimic the acoustic properties and stiffness of a variety of soft tissues, but they do not exhibit high toughness, a characteristic of fibrous connective tissue. To mimic pathologic fibrous tissue found in benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and other diseases that are potentially treatable with histotripsy, an optically transparent hydrogel with high toughness was developed that is a hybrid of polyacrylamide and alginate. The stiffness was established using shear wave elastography (SWE) and indentometry techniques and was found to be representative of human BPH ex vivo prostate tissue. Different phantom compositions and excised ex vivo BPH tissue samples were treated with a 700-kHz histotripsy transducer at different pulse repetition frequencies. Post-treatment, the hybrid gels and the tissue samples exhibited differential reduction in stiffness as measured by SWE. On B-mode ultrasound, partially treated areas were present as hyperechoic zones and fully liquified areas as hypoechoic zones. Phase contrast microscopy of the gel samples revealed liquefaction in regions consistent with the target lesion dimensions and correlated to findings identified in tissue samples via histology. The dose required to achieve liquefaction in the hybrid gel was similar to what has been observed in ex vivo tissue and greater than that of agarose of comparable or higher Young's modulus by a factor >10. These results indicate that the developed hydrogels closely mimic elasticities found in BPH prostate ex vivo tissue and have a similar response to histotripsy treatment, thus making them a useful cost-effective alternative for developing and evaluating different treatment protocols.

Improving burst wave lithotripsy effectiveness for small stones and fragments by increasing frequency: Theoretical modeling and ex vivo study

Bailey, M.R., A.D. Maxwell, S. Cao, S. Ramesh, Z. Liu, J.C. Williams, J. Thiel, B. Dunmire, T. Colonius, E. Kuznetsova, W. Kreider, M.D. Sorensen, J.E. Lindeman, and O.A. Sapozhnikov, "Improving burst wave lithotripsy effectiveness for small stones and fragments by increasing frequency: Theoretical modeling and ex vivo study," J. Endourol., 36, doi:10.1089/end.2021.0714, 2022.

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5 Jul 2022

Introduction and Objective: In clinical trial NCT03873259, a 2.6-mm lower pole stone was treated transcutaneously and ex vivo with 390-kHz burst wave lithotripsy (BWL) for 40 minutes and failed to break. The stone was subsequently fragmented with 650-kHz BWL after a 4-minute exposure. This study investigated how to fragment small stones and why varying the BWL frequency may more effectively fragment stones to dust.

Methods: A linear elastic theoretical model was used to calculate the stress created inside stones from shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) and different BWL frequencies mimicking the stone's size, shape, lamellar structure, and composition. To test model predictions about the impact of BWL frequency, matched pairs of stones (1–5 mm) were treated at (1) 390 kHz, (2) 830 kHz, and (3) 390 kHz followed by 830 kHz. The mass of fragments > 1 and 2 mm was measured over 10 minutes of exposure.

Results: The linear elastic model predicts that the maximum principal stress inside a stone increases to more than 5.5 times the pressure applied by the ultrasound wave as frequency is increased, regardless of the composition tested. The threshold frequency for stress amplification is proportionate to the wave speed divided by the stone diameter. Thus, smaller stones may be likely to fragment at a higher frequency, but not at a lower frequency below a limit. Unlike with SWL, this amplification in BWL occurs consistently with spherical and irregularly shaped stones. In water tank experiments, stones smaller than the threshold size broke fastest at high frequency (p = 0.0003), whereas larger stones broke equally well to submillimeter dust at high, low, or mixed frequencies.

Conclusions: For small stones and fragments, increasing frequency of BWL may produce amplified stress in the stone causing the stone to break. Using the strategies outlined here, stones of all sizes may be turned to dust efficiently with BWL.

Fragmentation of stones by burst wave lithotripsy in the first 19 humans

Harper, J.D., J.E. Lingeman, R.M. Sweet, I.S. Metzler, P. Sunaryo, J.C. Williams, A.D. Maxwell, J. Thiel, B.M. Cunitz, B. Dunmire, M.R. Bailey, and M.D. Sorensen, "Fragmentation of stones by burst wave lithotripsy in the first 19 humans," J. Urol., 207, doi:10.1097/JU.0000000000002446, 2022.

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1 May 2022

We report stone comminution in the first 19 human subjects by burst wave lithotripsy (BWL), which is the transcutaneous application of focused, cyclic ultrasound pulses. This was a prospective multi-institutional feasibility study recruiting subjects undergoing clinical ureteroscopy (URS) for at least 1 stone ≤12 mm as measured on computerized tomography. During the planned URS, either before or after ureteroscope insertion, BWL was administered with a handheld transducer, and any stone fragmentation and tissue injury were observed. Up to 3 stones per subject were targeted, each for a maximum of 10 minutes. The primary effectiveness outcome was the volume percent comminution of the stone into fragments ≤2 mm. The primary safety outcome was the independent, blinded visual scoring of tissue injury from the URS video. Overall, median stone comminution was 90% (IQR 20, 100) of stone volume with 21 of 23 (91%) stones fragmented. Complete fragmentation (all fragments ≤2 mm) within 10 minutes of BWL occurred in 9 of 23 stones (39%). Of the 6 least comminuted stones, likely causative factors for decreased effectiveness included stones that were larger than the BWL beamwidth, smaller than the BWL wavelength or the introduction of air bubbles from the ureteroscope. Mild reddening of the papilla and hematuria emanating from the papilla were observed ureteroscopically. The first study of BWL in human subjects resulted in a median of 90% comminution of the total stone volume into fragments ≤2 mm within 10 minutes of BWL exposure with only mild tissue injury.

More Publications


Bonding of structures using high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)

Record of Invention Number: 49327

Tom Matula, Ekaterina Kuznetsova, Adam Maxwell


17 Aug 2021

Non-planar holographic beam shaping lenses for acoustics

Record of Invention Number: 49310

Mike Bailey, Mohamed Ghanem, Adam Maxwell


20 Jul 2021

Lithotripsy That Tunes the Frequency to the Stone Size

Record of Invention Number: 49262

Mike Bailey, Adam Maxwell, Oleg Sapozhnikov


12 May 2021

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