Ultrasound-induced contraction of the carotid artery in vitro

E. M. Martin, F. A. Duck, R. E. Ellis, C. P. Winlove

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6 Citations (SciVal)


Ultrasound is known to produce a range of nonlethal responses in cells and tissues. Frequencies in the kilohertz ultrasound range have been shown to produce relaxation in large arteries. The present work explores the effects of insonation at MHz frequencies, representative of those used diagnostically and therapeutically, in an in vitro preparation of the carotid artery. Fresh 12.7 mm wide rings of equine common carotid artery obtained from the abattoir were mounted in a purpose-made myograph. They were immersed in a bath of Krebs-Ringer buffer at 37 degrees C and were positioned at the focus of an ultrasound beam from a weakly focused 3.2 MHz source. Continuous wave insonation produced contraction. The tension increased rapidly over the first 2 min, followed by a slower increase for the duration of the exposure up to 15 min. At a power of 145 mW a maximum contractile stress of 0.04 +/- 0.03 mN/mm(2) (mean +/- SD, n=77) was measured, which was approximately 4% of the maximum wall stress generated by noradrenaline (0.1 mM). The magnitude of the response was weakly dependent on power in the range 72-145 mW and was not significantly different for pulsed and continuous wave stimulation where time averaged power was constant. The response was unaffected by mechanical removal of the endothelium. The ultrasound beam generated insufficient radiation force to produce a measurable effect and streaming at the vessel surface was very small compared with flow rates known to produce physiologic effects. The temperature rise at the beam focus was approximately 0.3 degrees C and we hypothesise that this contributes to the observed response, probably through changes in ion channel activity in smooth muscle cell membranes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-172
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Medicine & Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010


  • vasoconstriction
  • ultrasound
  • bioeffects
  • artery


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