Putting the ‘Phyz’ into ultrasound

Researchers at UK-based TWI have developed a bio-compatible coating that makes it possible to ‘see’ intrusive devices such as biopsy needles when they’re used in ultrasound procedures.

How? By emitting bubbles from their surface!

The patented coating technology, which has been called ‘Phyz’, is based upon a biocompatible polymer that contains blowing agents.

As soon as it is introduced to water or tissue environments it gives off tiny bubbles. And it is these that work as efficient reflectors, and consequently stand out in sharp contrast on an otherwise fuzzy ultrasound.

The ultrasonic scatter induced by these bubbles allows far greater positional and directional information to be ‘seen’ by the scanning equipment. And, in the same way that airborne contrails record an aircraft’s passage, so, when the needle is removed a bubble trail remains, and allows accurate re-positioning.

The researchers have also demonstrated that when the Phyz coating is applied to biopsy needles, the needles can be sterilised by gamma radiation without any loss in reactivity.

TWI is now seeking licensees who might benefit from the technology.

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