Introduction: Current methods of transcranial diagnostic ultrasound imaging are limited by the skull’s acoustic properties. Craniotomy, craniectomy and cranioplasty procedures present opportunities to circumvent these limitations by substituting autologous bone with synthetic cranial implants composed of sonolucent biomaterials.
This study examined the potential to image the brain using trans-cranioplasty ultrasound (TCU) through a sonolucent cranial implant.
Methods: A validated brain phantom was imaged using computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound without an implant. Next, for experimental comparison, TCU was performed through a sonolucent implant composed of clear poly-methyl methacrylate (PMMA).
Results: All imaging modalities successfully revealed elements of the brain phantom including the bilateral ventricular system, the falx cerebri, and a deep hyperdense mass representing a brain tumor or hematoma. Additionally, ultrasound images were captured which closely resembled axial images obtained with both CT and MRI.
Conclusion: The results obtained in this first-ever, pre-clinical, phantom study suggest trans-cranioplasty ultrasound (TCU) is now a viable immediate and long-term diagnostic imaging modality deserving of further clinical investigation.