Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) uses acoustic pulses to treat certain musculoskeletal disorders. In this paper the acoustic field of a clinical portable ESWT device (Duolith SD1) was characterized. Field mapping was performed in water for two different standoffs of the electromagnetic head (15 or 30 mm) using a fiber optic probe hydrophone. Peak positive pressures at the focus ranged from 2 to 45 MPa, while peak negative pressures ranged from −2 to −11 MPa. Pulse rise times ranged from 8 to 500 ns; shock formation did not occur for any machine settings. The maximum standard deviation in peak pressure at the focus was 1.2%, indicating that the Duolith SD1 generates stable pulses. The results compare qualitatively, but not quantitatively with manufacturer specifications. Simulations were carried out for the short standoff by matching a Khokhlov-Zabolotskaya-Kuznetzov equation to the measured field at a plane near the source, and then propagating the wave outward. The results of modeling agree well with experimental data. The model was used to analyze the spatial structure of the peak pressures. Predictions from the model suggest that a true shock wave could be obtained in water if the initial pressure output of the device were doubled.

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