Echogenic Biomaterials for Medical Ultrasound Tracking

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Virginia Tech


As the world population ages, hospital discharges of geriatric patients to nursing homes have increased. Patients with peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) are routinely discharged with the catheters in place. PICCs, only capable of being tracked through x-ray imaging, will routinely experience complications due to thrombosis or accidental dislodgement from poor at-home care. Routinely, elderly patients will be forced to revisit the hospital to have the catheter replaced using x-ray imaging, exposing them to hospital borne illness. Catheters with the capability to be tracked without the need of x-ray imaging would greatly benefit the ill and elderly, providing decreased stress to the patients and increase nursing home capabilities.

This project seeks to develop the field of real-time ultrasound tracking of polymeric medical devices, through fabrication of ultrasound responsive polymer-glass composites. Optimal composition will be researched through three complimentary approaches. The first approach seeks to develop a polyurethane-glass microparticle composite to understand the relationship between microparticle loading and ultrasound imaging. In the second approach, manufacturing and end-use complications will be simulated to evaluate the effects on mechanical and ultrasonic properties. Furthermore, impacts from in-vitro long term catheterization to the sample mechanical and ultrasound morphologies would be analyzed. In the third approach, optimization from the previous approaches would assist in the replacement of medical grade polyurethane with medical grade thermoset silicone in hopes to prove the ability for the research to be transferable to other medical polymeric devices. The stated approaches will be useful for setting a path towards the development of ultrasonic imaging as the standard for medical device tracking.



Ultrasound, Echogenic, Composite, Microparticles, Twinkle Artifact