KEYWORDS: Ultrasonography, In vivo imaging, Acoustics, Injuries, Buildings, In vitro testing, Systems modeling, Transducers, 3D acquisition, 3D metrology, Collagen, Proteins, Tissues, Surgery, Animal model studies
Discogenic back pain presents a major public health issue, with current therapeutic interventions limited to short-term symptom relief without providing regenerative remedies for diseased intervertebral discs (IVD). Many of these interventions are invasive and can diminish the biomechanical integrity of the IVDs. Low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is a potential treatment option that is both non-invasive and regenerative. LIPUS has been shown to be a clinically effective method for the enhancement of wound and fracture healing. Recent in vitro studies have shown that LIPUS stimulation induces an upregulation functional matrix proteins and downregulation of inflammatory factors in cultured IVD cells. However, we do not know the effects of LIPUS on an in vivo model for intervertebral disc degeneration. The objective of this study was to show technical feasibility of building a LIPUS system that can target the rat tail IVD and apply this setup to a model for acute IVD degeneration. A LIPUS exposimetry system was built using a 1.0 MHz planar transducer and custom housing. Ex vivo intensity measurements demonstrated LIPUS delivery to the center of the rat tail IVD. Using an established stab-incision model for disc degeneration, LIPUS was applied for 20 minutes daily for five days. For rats that displayed a significant injury response, LIPUS treatment caused significant upregulation of Collagen II and downregulation of Tumor Necrosis Factor – α gene expression. Our preliminary studies indicate technical feasibility of targeted delivery of ultrasound to a rat tail IVD for studies of LIPUS biological effects.