Non-invasive kidney stone treatments such as shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) and burst wave lithotripsy (BWL) rely on the delivery of pressure waves through tissue to the stone. In both SWL and BWL, the potential to hinder comminution by exciting cavitation proximal to the stone has been reported. To elucidate how different stones alter prefocal cavitation in BWL, different natural and synthetic stones were treated in vitro using a therapy transducer operating at 350 kHz (peak negative pressure 7 MPa, pulse length 20 cycles, pulse repetition frequency 10 Hz). Stones were held in a confined volume of water designed to mimic the geometry of a kidney calyx, with the water filtered and degassed to maintain conditions for which the cavitation threshold (in the absence of a stone) matches that from in vivo observations. Stone targeting and cavitation monitoring were performed via ultrasound imaging using a diagnostic probe aligned coaxially with the therapy transducer. Quantitative differences in the extent and location of cavitation activity were observed for different stone types—e.g., stones (natural and synthetic) that are known to be porous produced larger prefocal cavitation clouds. Ongoing work will focus on correlation of such cavitation metrics with stone fragmentation.

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