In high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) applications, tissue may be thermally necrosed by heating, emulsified by cavitation, or, as was recently discovered, emulsified using repetitive millisecond boiling caused by shock wave heating. Here, this last approach was further investigated. Experiments were performed in transparent gels and ex vivo bovine heart tissue using 1, 2, and 3 MHz focused transducers and different pulsing schemes in which the pressure, duty factor, and pulse duration were varied. A previously developed derating procedure to determine in situ shock amplitudes and the time-to-boil was refined. Treatments were monitored using B-mode ultrasound. Both inertial cavitation and boiling were observed during exposures, but emulsification occurred only when shocks and boiling were present. Emulsified lesions without thermal denaturation were produced with shock amplitudes sufficient to induce boiling in less than 20 ms, duty factors of less than 0.02, and pulse lengths shorter than 30 ms. Higher duty factors or longer pulses produced varying degrees of thermal denaturation combined with mechanical emulsification. Larger lesions were obtained using lower ultrasound frequencies. The results show that shock wave heating and millisecond boiling is an effective and reliable way to emulsify tissue while monitoring the treatment with ultrasound.

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