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The Brandaris 128: a fast framing camera system

Optical study of contrast agent microbubble vibration

Ultrasound contrast agents
Ultrasonography is the most widely used medical imaging modality. The majority of ultrasound systems operate at frequencies in the 1-5 MHz range and form images using a hand-held transducer that is external to the body. It is capable of providing real-time information about tissue structure and blood flow in the heart and larger vessels. Unfortunately, in smaller vessels and capillaries blood detection is not possible due to the low signal strength from blood, tissue motion effects, and limited resolution (~0.5-1 mm). To detect blood in echographies ultrasound contrast agents are applied. Ultrasound contrast agents are administered intravenously and consist of liquids containing coated microbubbles. These microbubbles increase the reflection of ultrasound by the blood pool and by that, make it possible to study tissue perfusion.

 

High-speed camera system
To study the dynamics of the bubble in an ultrasound field optically, e.g. under a microscope, it is necessary to use a high-speed camera. We have constructed (together with the university of Twente) a digital ultra high-speed camera system. This camera system is capable of operating at frame rates up to 25 million frames per second. These high speeds are possible because the camera is not a single CCD camera, but consists of a rotating mirror that sweeps the image very fast along 128 CCD cameras. The ultra high-speed camera is called Brandaris after the famous light house at Terschelling (an island in the north of the Netherlands)  because it makes use of an optical principle similar to that of a light house.

This camera, which measures 1.5 x 1.5 x 0.3 meter, weights 150 kg and costs about 700 k€ (grant from FOM) is unique in the world. The results collected with this camera system have already revealed the complicated interaction between cells and bubbles and have given more insight in the complex vibration of the bubbles for diagnostic use (see e.g. figure below).

 

More information
See for more details on the Brandaris high-speed camera system: www.brandaris128.nl and the paper by Chin CT, Lancee L, Borsboom J, Mastik F, Frijlink ME, de Jong N. Brandaris 128: A digital 25 million frames per second camera with 128 highly sensitive frames. Review of Scientific Instruments 2003;74:5026-5034, 2003.