Focusing Ultrasound Through the Skull: The Promise and Challenge of Transcranial Focused Ultrasound

#Biomedical #Engineering #Ultrasound

The ED/CAS Chapter of the Pikes Peak Section of the IEEE is pleased to invite you to a talk given by Dr. Taylor D. Webb on Focusing Ultrasound Through the Skull: The Promise and Challenge of Transcranial Focused Ultrasound.

The Transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS) is a class of ultrasound techniques with the potential to provide a variety of new non-invasive treatment options for pathologies ranging from cancer to depression. At high energies, FUS can destroy diseased tissue through thermal ablation, a technique that was recently approved by the FDA to treat essential tremor. At lower energies, FUS can reversibly open the blood brain barrier for the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to tumors and it can modulate neural activity, suggesting the possibility of using FUS to treat mental illness and study neural function.

However, delivery of the acoustic energy to the desired location of the brain is difficult because heterogeneity in the acoustic properties of the skull causes alterations to the size, shape, and location of the beam’s focus. Compensating for these distortions requires knowledge of the acoustic velocity in the patient’s skull. Clinically, the velocity is estimated using a CT scan of the patient, but there is disagreement about the correct method for obtaining the acoustic velocity from the CT image and, because FUS procedures are often performed under MR guidance, there is interest in estimating the velocity with MRI.

We are developing models relating the acoustic velocity of human skull bone to CT Hounsfield Units (HU) and two different parameters measured with ultra short echo time (UTE) MRI. These models allow us to estimate the acoustic velocity in individual patient skulls using either a CT or MR image. They are generated using measurements from 100 fragments taken from two ex-vivo human skulls. Our results show that velocity is strongly correlated with both HU and the measured MR parameters. These models will improve the accuracy of CT based velocity estimates and, by allowing the use of MRI instead of CT, eliminate the need for ionizing radiation, leading to improved treatment efficacy and more widespread application of FUS.

  Date and Time




  • Date: 28 Aug 2017
  • Time: 12:15 PM to 01:15 PM
  • All times are (UTC-06:00) Mountain Time (US & Canada)
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  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  • 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • United States 80918
  • Building: Engineering Building
  • Room Number: ENG 105

  • Contact Event Host
  • Prof T.S. Kalkur's phone number is: ((719) 255-3147 

  • Co-sponsored by Dr. T.S. Kalkur
  • Starts 09 August 2017 12:00 PM
  • Ends 27 August 2017 12:00 AM
  • All times are (UTC-06:00) Mountain Time (US & Canada)
  • No Admission Charge


Dr. Taylor Webb


Taylor Webb received the BS (cum laude, 2010) and MS (2012) degrees in Electrical Engineering from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah. At BYU he pursued research in the design and characterization of phased array feeds for Radio Astronomy and remote sensing, including work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories and the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico.

In 2012 he began pursuing the PhD degree at Stanford University. Taylor’s current research is in the modeling of acoustic wave propagation through the human skull. These models support transcranial focused ultrasound procedures such as ablation for the treatment of Parkinsonian and essential tremors, blood brain barrier opening for the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents, and neuromodulation.

Taylor has been the recipient of various awards including a fellowship from MIT Lincoln Laboratories and the NASA NSTRF award. His research interests include numerical modeling of waves and their interactions with human tissue, especially the skull and brain.

Dr. Taylor Webb