A New Way to Use Ultrasound to Relieve Pain

Pain caused by surgery is a widespread problem, with studies estimating a possible 41% of patients reporting moderate to severe pain after a surgical procedure. Doctors may administer local anesthetics, however the drugs are only a temporary fix and are given in a single large dose, causing increased side effects.

Recent research led by Daniel Kohane, explores new strategies in delivering medicine for pain relief. The researchers have developed a method in which liposomes (small ball-shaped vesicles) containing an anesthetic are injected.  The liposomes react to ultrasound waves which trigger the release of the anesthetic. Though liposomes have been used in the past to deliver medicine, Dr. Kohane’s method allows patients to control how much anesthetic is released by using ultrasounds. Since ultrasounds are accessible and widely available, the average patient would be able to release pain killers according to their personal needs.