The color Doppler ultrasound twinkling artifact, which highlights kidney stones with rapidly changing color, has the potential to improve stone detection; however, its inconsistent appearance has limited its clinical utility. Recently, it was proposed stable crevice bubbles on the kidney stone surface cause twinkling; however, the hypothesis is not fully accepted because the bubbles have not been directly observed. In this paper, the micron or submicron-sized bubbles predicted by the crevice bubble hypothesis are enlarged in kidney stones of five primary compositions by exposure to acoustic rarefaction pulses or hypobaric static pressures in order to simultaneously capture their appearance by high-speed photography and ultrasound imaging. On filming stones that twinkle, consecutive rarefaction pulses from a lithotripter caused some bubbles to reproducibly grow from specific locations on the stone surface, suggesting the presence of pre-existing crevice bubbles. Hyperbaric and hypobaric static pressures were found to modify the twinkling artifact; however, the simple expectation that hyperbaric exposures reduce and hypobaric pressures increase twinkling by shrinking and enlarging bubbles, respectively, largely held for rough-surfaced stones but was inadequate for smoother stones. Twinkling was found to increase or decrease in response to elevated static pressure on smooth stones, perhaps because of the compression of internal voids. These results support the crevice bubble hypothesis of twinkling and suggest the kidney stone crevices that give rise to the twinkling phenomenon may be internal as well as external.
- Doppler ultrasound
- kidney stone detection
- twinkling artifact
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging