Magnetomotive Ultrasound Imaging Systems: Basic Principles and First Applications

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11 Citations (SciVal)


This review discusses magnetomotive ultrasound, which is an emerging technique that uses superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles as a contrast agent. The key advantage of using nanoparticle-based contrast agents is their ability to reach extravascular targets, whereas commercial contrast agents for ultrasound comprise microbubbles confined to the blood stream. This also extends possibilities for molecular imaging, where the contrast agent is labeled with specific targeting molecules (e.g., antibodies) so that pathologic tissue may be visualized directly. The principle of action is that an external time-varying magnetic field acts to displace the nanoparticles lodged in tissue and thereby their immediate surrounding. This movement is then detected with ultrasound using frequency- or time-domain analysis of echo data. As a contrast agent already approved for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by the US Food and Drug Administration, there is a shorter path to clinical translation, although safety studies of magnetomotion are necessary, especially if particle design is altered to affect biodistribution or signal strength. The external modulated magnetic field may be generated by electromagnets, permanent magnets, or a combination of the two. The induced nanoparticle motion may also reveal mechanical material properties of tissue, healthy or diseased, one of several interesting potential future aspects of the technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2636-2650
Number of pages15
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number10
Early online date2020 Aug 1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging


  • Magnetomotive
  • Molecular imaging
  • Ultrasound


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