Experimental ultrasound tool eradicates blood clots

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A new tool that uses low-frequency intravascular ultrasound to break down blood clots that cause deep vein thrombosis is being tested by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The tool is the first of its kind and will allow doctors to better target clots. So far, it’s only been tested in synthetic blood vessels, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.

Intravascular ultrasound tools currently used clear clots laterally, which makes it difficult to target clots exclusively.

"Our new ultrasound tool is forward-facing, like a drill, but still breaks down clots into very fine particles," said Xiaoning Jiang, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the work, in a statement. "Our approach improves accuracy without relying on high doses of blood thinners, which we hope will reduce risks across the board."

The new tool incorporates an injection tube that lets users insert microbubbles at the site of the cloth, increasing effectiveness.

"We found that we could dissolve 90 percent of a clot in 3.5 to 4 hours without using any blood thinners at all," said Jinwook Kim, the lead author of the study and a PhD student in Jiang's lab, in a statement. "That's compared to 10 hours for the combination of conventional ultrasound tools and blood thinners. This is a successful proof of concept, and we're now in the process of securing funding to move forward with trials in an animal model.”