Modeling Physiology

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Modeling Physiology

Stabilized bubbles in the body: pressure-radius relationships and the limits to stabilization

HUGH D. VAN LIEW AND SOUMYA RAYCHAUDHURI
Department of Physiology, University at Buffalo,
State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14214

Van Liew, Hugh D., and Soumya Raychaudhuri. Stabilized bubbles in the body: pressure-radius relationships and the limits to stabilization. J. Appl. Physiol. 82(6): 2045–2053,1997.—We previously outlined the fundamental principles that govern behavior of stabilized bubbles, such as the microbubbles being put forward as ultrasound contrast agents.
Our present goals are to develop the idea that there are limits to the stabilization and to provide a conceptual framework for comparison of bubbles stabilized by different mechanisms. Gases diffuse in or out of stabilized bubbles in a limited and reversible manner in response to changes in the environment, but strong growth influences will cause the bubbles to cross a threshold into uncontrolled growth. Also, bubbles stabilized by mechanical structures will be destroyed if outside influences bring them below a critical small size. The in vivo behavior of different kinds of stabilized bubbles can be compared by using plots of bubble radius as a function of forces that affect diffusion of gases in or out of the bubble. The two ends of the plot are the limits for unstabilized growth and destruction; these and the curve’s slope predict the bubble’s
practical usefulness for ultrasonic imaging or O2 carriage to tissues. bubble nuclei; cavitation; decompression sickness; surfactants; surface-active films; ultrasonic imaging.