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Vera Khokhlova

Senior Principal Engineer






M.S. Physics, Moscow State University, 1986

Ph.D. Acoustics, Moscow State University, 1991


Ultrasonic tweezers: Technology to lift and steer solid objects in a living body

In a recent paper, a CIMU team describes successful experiments to manipulate a solid object within a living body with ultrasound beams transmitted through the skin.

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15 Jul 2020

A collaborative, international research teams developed and tuned an ultrasound transducer to create vortex shaped beams that can trap, grab, levitate, and move in three dimensions mm-scale objects. The team is working to apply this technology to their all-in-one kidney stone treatment system that, in clinical trials, uses ultrasound to non-invasively break, erode, and move stones and stone fragments out of the kidney so that they may pass naturally from the body.

Mechanical Tissue Ablation with Focused Ultrasound

An experimental noninvasive surgery method uses nonlinear ultrasound pulses to liquefy tissue at remote target sites within a small focal region without damaging intervening tissues. A multi-institution, international team led by CIMU researchers is applying the method to the focal treatment of prostate tumors.

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19 Mar 2020

Boiling histotripsy utilizes sequences of millisecond-duration HIFU pulses with high-amplitude shocks that form at the focus by nonlinear propagation effects. Due to strong attenuation of the ultrasound energy at the shocks, these nonlinear waves rapidly heat tissue and generate millimeter-sized boiling bubbles at the focus within each pulse. Then the further interaction of subsequent shocks with the vapor cavity causes tissue disintegration into subcellular debris through the acoustic atomization mechanism.

The method was proposed at APL-UW in collaboration with Moscow State University (Russia) and now is being evaluated for various clinical applications. It has particular promise because of its important clinical advantages: the treatment of tissue volumes can be accelerated while sparing adjacent structures and not injuring intervening tissues; it generates precisely controlled mechanical lesions with sharp margins; the method can be implemented in existing clinical systems; and it can be used with real-time ultrasound imaging for targeting, guidance, and evaluation of outcomes. In addition, compared to thermal ablation, BH may lead to faster resorption of the liquefied lesion contents.

Characterizing Medical Ultrasound Sources and Fields

For every medical ultrasound transducer it's important to characterize the field it creates, whether for safety of imaging or efficacy of therapy. CIMU researchers measure a 2D acoustic pressure distribution in the beam emanating from the source transducer and then reconstruct mathematically the exact field on the surface of the transducer and in the entire 3D space.

11 Sep 2017


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Enhancement of boiling histotripsy by steering the focus axially during the pulse delivery

Thomas, G.P.L., T.D. Khokhlova, O.A. Sapozhnikov, and V.A. Khokhlova, "Enhancement of boiling histotripsy by steering the focus axially during the pulse delivery," IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control, 70, 865-875, doi:10.1109/TUFFC.2023.3286759, 2023.

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1 Aug 2023

Boiling histotripsy (BH) is a pulsed high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) method relying on the generation of high-amplitude shocks at the focus, localized enhanced shock-wave heating, and bubble activity driven by shocks to induce tissue liquefaction. BH uses sequences of 1–20 ms long pulses with shock fronts of over 60 MPa amplitude, initiates boiling at the focus of the HIFU transducer within each pulse, and the remainder shocks of the pulse then interact with the boiling vapor cavities. One effect of this interaction is the creation of a prefocal bubble cloud due to reflection of shocks from the initially generated mm-sized cavities: the shocks are inverted when reflected from a pressure-release cavity wall resulting in sufficient negative pressure to reach intrinsic cavitation threshold in front of the cavity. Secondary clouds then form due to shock-wave scattering from the first one. Formation of such prefocal bubble clouds has been known as one of the mechanisms of tissue liquefaction in BH. Here, a methodology is proposed to enlarge the axial dimension of this bubble cloud by steering the HIFU focus toward the transducer after the initiation of boiling until the end of each BH pulse and thus to accelerate treatment. A BH system comprising a 1.5 MHz 256-element phased array connected to a Verasonics V1 system was used. High-speed photography of BH sonications in transparent gels was performed to observe the extension of the bubble cloud resulting from shock reflections and scattering. Volumetric BH lesions were then generated in ex vivo tissue using the proposed approach. Results showed up to almost threefold increase of the tissue ablation rate with axial focus steering during the BH pulse delivery compared to standard BH.

Pilot ex vivo study on non-thermal ablation of human prostate adenocarcinoma tissue using boiling histotripsy

Rosnitskiy, P.B., and 16 others including O.A. Sapozhnikov, A.D. Maxwell, Y.-N. Wang, and V.A. Khokhlova, "Pilot ex vivo study on non-thermal ablation of human prostate adenocarcinoma tissue using boiling histotripsy," Ultrasonics, 133, doi:10.1016/j.ultras.2023.107029, 2023.

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1 Aug 2023

Focused ultrasound technologies are of growing interest for noninvasive ablation of localized prostate cancer (PCa). Here we present the results of the first case study evaluating the feasibility of non-thermal mechanical ablation of human prostate adenocarcinoma tissue using the boiling histotripsy (BH) method on ex vivo tissue. High intensity focused ultrasound field was generated using a 1.5-MHz custom-made transducer with nominal F#=0.75. A sonication protocol of 734 W acoustic power, 10-ms long BH-pulses, 30 pulses per focal spot, 1 % duty cycle, and 1 mm distance between single foci was tested in an ex vivo human prostate tissue sample containing PCa. The protocol used here has been successfully applied in the previous BH studies for mechanical disintegration of ex vivo prostatic human tissue with benign hyperplasia. BH treatment was monitored using B-mode ultrasound. Post-treatment histologic analysis demonstrated BH produced liquefaction of the targeted tissue volume. BH treated benign prostate parenchyma and PCa had similar tissue fractionation into subcellular fragments. The results of the study demonstrated that PCa tumor tissue can be mechanically ablated using the BH method. Further studies will aim on optimizing protocol parameters to accelerate treatment while maintaining complete destruction of the targeted tissue volume into subcellular debris.

The histotripsy spectrum: Differences and similarities in techniques and instrumentation

Williams, R.P., J.C. Simon, V.A. Khokhlova, O.A. Sapozhnikov, and T.D. Khokhlova, "The histotripsy spectrum: Differences and similarities in techniques and instrumentation," Int. J. Hyperthermia, 40, doi:10.1080/02656736.2023.2233720, 2023.

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17 Jul 2023

Since its inception about two decades ago, histotripsy — a non-thermal mechanical tissue ablation technique — has evolved into a spectrum of methods, each with distinct potentiating physical mechanisms: intrinsic threshold histotripsy, shock-scattering histotripsy, hybrid histotripsy, and boiling histotripsy. All methods utilize short, high-amplitude pulses of focused ultrasound delivered at a low duty cycle, and all involve excitation of violent bubble activity and acoustic streaming at the focus to fractionate tissue down to the subcellular level. The main differences are in pulse duration, which spans microseconds to milliseconds, and ultrasound waveform shape and corresponding peak acoustic pressures required to achieve the desired type of bubble activity. In addition, most types of histotripsy rely on the presence of high-amplitude shocks that develop in the pressure profile at the focus due to nonlinear propagation effects. Those requirements, in turn, dictate aspects of the instrument design, both in terms of driving electronics, transducer dimensions and intensity limitations at surface, shape (primarily, the F-number) and frequency. The combination of the optimized instrumentation and the bio-effects from bubble activity and streaming on different tissues, lead to target clinical applications for each histotripsy method. Here, the differences and similarities in the physical mechanisms and resulting bioeffects of each method are reviewed and tied to optimal instrumentation and clinical applications.

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MRI-Feedback Control of Ultrasound Based Mechanical Fractionation of Biological Tissue

Patent Number: 11,224,356

Wayne Kreider, Vera Khokhlova

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18 Jan 2022

Disclosed herein are example embodiments of devices, systems, and methods for mechanical fractionation of biological tissue using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) feedback control. The examples may involve displaying an image representing first MRI data corresponding to biological tissue, and receiving input identifying one or more target regions of the biological tissue to be mechanically fractionated via exposure to first ultrasound waves. The examples may further involve applying the first ultrasound waves and, contemporaneous to or after applying the first ultrasound waves, acquiring second MRI data corresponding to the biological tissue. The examples may also involve determining, based on the second MRI data, one or more second parameters for applying second ultrasound waves to the biological tissue, and applying the second ultrasound waves to the biological tissue according to the one or more second parameters.

Method and System for MRI-based Targeting, Monitoring, and Quantification of Thermal and Mechanical Bioeffects in Tissue Induced by High Intensity Focused Ultrasound

Example embodiments of system and method for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques for planning, real-time monitoring, control, and post-treatment assessment of high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) mechanical fractionation of biological material are disclosed. An adapted form of HIFU, referred to as "boiling histotripsy" (BH), can be used to cause mechanical fractionation of biological material. In contrast to conventional HIFU, which cause pure thermal ablation, BH can generate therapeutic destruction of biological tissue with a degree of control and precision that allows the process to be accurately measured and monitored in real-time as well as the outcome of the treatment can be evaluated using a variety of MRI techniques. Real-time monitoring also allow for real-time control of BH.

Patent Number: 10,694,974

Vera Khokhlova, Wayne Kreider, Adam Maxwell, Yak-Nam Wang, Mike Bailey


30 Jun 2020

Systems and Methods for Measuring Pressure Distributions of Acoustic Beams from Ultrasound Sources

The present technology relates generally to receiving arrays to measure a characteristic of an acoustic beam and associated systems and methods.

Patent Number: 10,598,773

Oleg Sapozhnikov, Wayne Kreider, Adam Maxwell, Vera Khokhlova

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24 Mar 2020

The present technology relates generally to receiving arrays to measure a characteristic of an acoustic beam and associated systems and methods. The receiving arrays can include elongated elements having at least one dimension, such as a length, that is larger than a width of an emitted acoustic beam and another dimension, such as a width, that is smaller than half of a characteristic wavelength of an ultrasound wave. The elongated elements can be configured to capture waveform measurements of the beam based on a characteristic of the emitted acoustic beam as the acoustic beam crosses a plane of the array, such as a transverse plane. The methods include measuring at least one characteristic of an ultrasound source using an array-based acoustic holography system and defining a measured hologram at the array surface based, at least in part, on the waveform measurements. The measured hologram can be processed to reconstruct a characteristic of the ultrasound source. The ultrasound source can be calibrated and/or re-calibrated based on the characteristic.

More Inventions

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center