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Stable Cavitation and Acoustical Streaming Physiological Effects

therapeutic ultrasound non thermal effectsEQultrasound mechanical non-thermal effects produce distortions of the cell membranes, influencing ion fluxes and intracellular activity.

Cell membrane destabilization results in an increase in cellular permeability, therefore many molecules travel into the cell, precipitating secondary effects:

  • increase in cell membrane permeability
  • increase of intracellular calcium (known as second messenger for cell function, including protein synthesis)
  • increase mast cell degranulation
  • increase histamine and chemotactic factor release by granules from mast cells and circulating platelets (influencing circulation and protein synthesis)

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In summary cell membrane destabilization is thought to enhance the inflammatory response from the inflammatory phase, consequently aiding and speeding up tissue regeneration and repair.

The most important parameters for the generation of mechanical non-thermal effects are:

  • ultrasound frequency
  • intensity of ultrasound emission
  • exposure time

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At high ultrasound frequencies, on the order of the MHz (like in traditional high frequency ultrasound devices), the production of cavitation bubbles becomes more difficult than at low ultrasound frequencies, of the order of the kHz (like with EQultrasound).

To achieve cavitation with high frequency 1-3 MHz devices, ultrasound intensity must be significantly increased, to ensure that the cohesive forces of interstitial fluids are overcome and voids are created; too high ultrasound intensities can lead to burns and tissues damages. Furthermore histamine is released by the degranulation of mast cells. The rate at which this occurs is proportional to the ultrasound intensity (the higher the ultrasound intensity, the more histamine is released). It is possible to form too much histamine with a high intensity output, which could prolong the inflammation instead of stimulating healing.

This is one of the major advantages offered by EQultrasound low frequency / longwave therapy (38 kHz +/-2) versus traditional high frequency ultrasound therapy (1-3 MHz): since EQultrasound operates at a much lower frequency than traditional high frequency devices, it can safely produce stable cavitation, acoustical streaming and micro-streaming without the need to increase significantly ultrasound intensity.

The mechanical non-thermal effects produced by EQultrasound increase cellular metabolic activity, cellular permeability, blood micro-circulation, enzymatic activity, tissue oxygenation and remove metabolic debris produced by the injury. All these physiological effects contribute to accelerate healing, reducing edema and pain, and speeding up the inflammatory phase of tissue repair for a faster recovery of the treated areas.

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