Ultrasound experts at this week’s advances in contrast ultrasound conference in Chicago called for an expanded use of ultrasound contrast agents due to low-cost, safety, and reliability.
Ultrasound contrast agents are biocompatible. To enhance the resolution of an ultrasound image, they are injected during an ultrasound scan. They contain microscopic gas-filled microbubbles, that while flowing through the body’s circulation, reflect ultrasound signals. These microbubbles are expelled from the body within minutes after injection.
Ultrasound experts reemphasized the safety of ultrasound contrast agents at this week’s conference, stating that they contain no dye and present no risk of liver or kidney damage and also that patient sedation is also not required.
Ultrasound contrast agents are versatile and useful for imaging tumors and organ systems throughout the body, including the kidney, bowel, breast, pancreas, prostate, and carotid arteries, according to Dr. Stephanie Wilson from the university of Calgary.
Dr. Richard Barr, PhD, from Northeast Ohio Medical University stated that doctors are increasingly using ultrasound agents for indications that are not approved and that professional guidelines now support these extra indications.
Experts informed that contrast-enhanced ultrasound contrast-enhanced ultrasound is highly effective for monitoring patients’ response to therapy. They also stated that, compared to more expensive imaging tools like MRI or CT, the radiation-free imaging technique is often equivalent or superior.
Cardiac imaging would also benefit from more holistic regulation and approval of these agents, according to Dr. Thomas porter from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He said that in accurately diagnosing cardiovascular disease, contrast-enhanced ultrasound can play an important role.
For expanding approved uses of ultrasound contrast agents for whole-body imaging, panelists called on the FDA to work with agent manufacturers. They added that limited regulatory approvals restrict opportunities for education and training, and also patient access.