Life (Jun 2021)

Mechanically Induced Cavitation in Biological Systems

  • Chunghwan Kim,
  • Won June Choi,
  • Yisha Ng,
  • Wonmo Kang

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 546
p. 546


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Cavitation bubbles form in soft biological systems when subjected to a negative pressure above a critical threshold, and dynamically change their size and shape in a violent manner. The critical threshold and dynamic response of these bubbles are known to be sensitive to the mechanical characteristics of highly compliant biological systems. Several recent studies have demonstrated different biological implications of cavitation events in biological systems, from therapeutic drug delivery and microsurgery to blunt injury mechanisms. Due to the rapidly increasing relevance of cavitation in biological and biomedical communities, it is necessary to review the current state-of-the-art theoretical framework, experimental techniques, and research trends with an emphasis on cavitation behavior in biologically relevant systems (e.g., tissue simulant and organs). In this review, we first introduce several theoretical models that predict bubble response in different types of biological systems and discuss the use of each model with physical interpretations. Then, we review the experimental techniques that allow the characterization of cavitation in biologically relevant systems with in-depth discussions of their unique advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we highlight key biological studies and findings, through the direct use of live cells or organs, for each experimental approach.