Action of Ultrasound on Isolated Cells and Cell Cultures

  • C. R. Hill


Understanding of the experimental evidence on the effects of ultrasound on living cells calls for an appreciation of the various biophysical mechanisms that may be involved. These include heat, cavitation in its various forms, microstreaming and other possible but unsubstantiated mechanisms. Biological endpoints that have been studied in relation to these mechanisms include cell disintegration, modification of proliferation patterns, genetic mutation, induction of chromosomal aberrations, modification of the cell membrane and of intracellular organelles and modification of cell function and radiosensitivity.

Tentative, concensus conclusions from published experimental data in this field are that: (1) mutation and chromosomal abnormalities have not been consistently demonstrated to result from ultrasonic exposure, (2) for producing cell death and a variety of reversible and irreversible non-genetic cellular modifications, cavitation can be a very effective mechanism, (3) other non-thermal mechanisms may operate but have not been consistently and repeatably demonstrated.

Human beings are more than cell cultures writ large and extrapolators operate in this territory at their own peril.


Chromosomal Aberration Mitotic Index Isolate Cell Ultrasonic Irradiation Ultrasonic Field 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. R. Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics Division, Institute of Cancer ResearchRoyal Marsden HospitalSutton, SurreyUK

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