Large-Scale Ultrasound Propagation Simulations in the Human Brain
Project Period: 1. 1. 2014 - 31. 12. 2016
Project Type: grant
Agency: South Moravian Centre for International Mobility
Brain research, Oncology, Acoustics, Computational physics, Modelling tools, Computer science.
The simulation of ultrasound wave propagation through biological tissue has a wide range of practical applications. Recently, high intensity focused ultrasound has been applied to functional neurosurgery as an alternative, non-invasive treatment of various brain disorders such as brain tumours, cerebral haemorrhage, essential tremor, and Parkinsons disease. The technique works by sending a focused beam of ultrasound into the tissue, typically using a large transducer. At the focus, the acoustic energy is sufficient to cause cell death in a localised region while the surrounding tissue is left unharmed. The major challenge is to ensure the focus is accurately placed at the desired target within the brain because the skull can significantly distort it. The accurate ultrasound simulations thus gain importance in providing patient specific treatment plans. However, existing simulation tools are unable to cope with the extreme scale and physical complexity of realistic simulations in the brain.
The aim of this project is to develop, validate and apply new computer models to simulate how ultrasound waves travel through the intact skull and inside the brain. These models will be based on innovative advances in theoretical acoustic and numerical methods, and will use the state-of-the-art computing facilities that have only recently become available. They will allow to accurately predict the position of the focus in the brain during the treatment for the first time. This will allow physicians to carefully plan and optimise the treatment parameters to increase the effectiveness of the focused ultrasound surgery, reduce the time it takes to treat patients and extend the range and location of cancers that are eligible for treatment.