- A vortex ultrasound technique has cleared blood clots in vitro, encouraging researchers to keep studying an approach that could accelerate the treatment of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST).
- The potential for ultrasound to clear clots faster than pharmaceuticals has fueled research into the approach but the technique has so far failed to achieve clinically meaningful outcomes.
- Writing in the journal Research, scientists at North Carolina State University describe how the rate of blood clot elimination increased when the ultrasound was formed into a vortex to induce shear stress.
Current treatments fail up to 40% of patients with CVST, a rare form of stroke characterized by the formation of a blood clot in the brain. In theory, sonothrombolysis, the use of ultrasound to clear clots, could improve outcomes by directly targeting clots and thereby accelerating their elimination. However, the approach failed to provide meaningful benefits to stroke patients in a phase 3 clinical trial.
Now, researchers have generated early evidence that vortex ultrasound may be more effective.
“The ultrasound is swirling as it moves forward. Based on our in vitro testing, this approach eliminates blood clots more quickly than existing techniques, largely because of the shear stress induced by the vortex wave,” wrote Xiaoning Jiang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, in a statement.
Vortex ultrasound increased the rate of clot disintegration by 64.3% compared to standard endovascular ultrasound treatment in the in vitro tests run by Jiang and his collaborators. The approach fully cleared a 3D model of acute CVST in eight minutes. Existing medicines take hours to dissolve clots.
The researchers now plan to study the approach in an animal model that will provide a clearer picture of the safety and efficacy of the technique. Beyond that, the technique will need to undergo clinical trials before it is authorized for use outside of research settings.