Cell damage by lithotripter shock waves at high pressure to preclude cavitation

James C. Williams, Jason F. Woodward, Mark A. Stonehill, Andrew P. Evan, James A. McAteer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Acoustic cavitation has been implicated as a cause of cell damage by lithotripter shock waves, particularly under in vitro conditions. When red blood cells were exposed to shock waves (from an electrohydraulic lithotripter) while under high hydrostatic pressure (> 80 atm), cell lysis was dramatically reduced over that seen at atmospheric pressure, which is consistent with damage due to acoustic cavitation. However, even at > 120 atm of pressure, lysis was still 97% above that of cells not exposed to shock waves, revealing significant damage that apparently was due to mechanisms other than cavitation. Hydrostatic pressure alone did not cause cell lysis, and shock-wave-dependent damage occurred when the cells were in fluid suspension, or when they were centrifuged to the end of the vial. Shock-wave damage at high pressure increased with increasing shock-wave number, and was seen at 24 and 20 kV, but not at 16 kV. This shock-wave damage at high pressure makes up a noteworthy portion of the total cell injury seen at atmospheric pressure (about 10% at 24 kV), suggesting significant noncavitational injury to cells in vitro. Because cavitation occurs far more readily in vitro than in vivo, the noncavitational damage seen in the present study could represent a substantial portion of cell injury seen in vivo with shock-wave lithotripsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1445-1449
Number of pages5
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 1999


  • Cavitation
  • Cell injury
  • Erythrocytes
  • Shock wave lithotripsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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