Quantitation of shock wave cavitation damage in vitro

David A. Lifshitz, James C. Williams*, Bradford Sturtevant, Bret A. Connors, Andrew P. Evan, James A. Mcateer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Acoustic cavitation damage was quantitated using aluminum foil targets placed within 2-mL polypropylene cryovials. The vials contained various media tested for their potential to support cavitation and were exposed to shock waves using an unmodified Dornier HM3 lithotripter. Foil damage, expressed in terms of a 'damage index,' was measured from digitized light microscopy images by quantitating the spread of gray-scale histograms. Target sensitivity was demonstrated by reproducible dose-response curves over the range (1-200 shock waves) commonly used for in vitro cell injury studies. Increased shock wave repetition rate reduced the damage index. Untreated foils showed a very low damage index (0.001% ± 0.001%), while treated foils submerged in Ringer buffer yielded significant damage (2.2% ± 0.3%, p < 0.001). Degassing the buffer reduced damage to 0.3% ± 0.1% (p < 0.001). Foils submerged in castor oil showed virtually no damage. These results implicate acoustic cavitation in target damage. Targets immersed in biological fluids (blood and urine) had significantly less damage than in Ringer. The effect of degassing was also evaluated in a red blood cell lysis assay. Hemoglobin release in degassed preparations was significantly reduced compared to nondegassed controls (p < 0.001) and correlated with reduced foil damage index in cell-free vials. These findings characterize a sensitive method to quantitate acoustic cavitation and implicate a role for cavitation in shock wave lithotripsy-induced cell lysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-471
Number of pages11
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney DiseasesP01DK043881


    • Acoustic cavitation
    • Cell lysis
    • Image analysis
    • Red blood cells
    • Shock wave lithotripsy
    • Shock waves


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