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Circulatory bubble dynamics: From physical to biological aspects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Virginie Papadopoulou, Meng-Xing Tang, Costantino Balestra, Robert J Eckersley, Thodoris D Karapantsios

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-249
Number of pages11
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


King's Authors


Bubbles can form in the body during or after decompression from pressure exposures such as those undergone by scuba divers, astronauts, caisson and tunnel workers. Bubble growth and detachment physics then becomes significant in predicting and controlling the probability of these bubbles causing mechanical problems by blocking vessels, displacing tissues, or inducing an inflammatory cascade if they persist for too long in the body before being dissolved. By contrast to decompression induced bubbles whose site of initial formation and exact composition are debated, there are other instances of bubbles in the bloodstream which are well-defined. Gas emboli unwillingly introduced during surgical procedures and ultrasound microbubbles injected for use as contrast or drug delivery agents are therefore also discussed. After presenting the different ways that bubbles can end up in the human bloodstream, the general mathematical formalism related to the physics of bubble growth and detachment from decompression is reviewed. Bubble behavior in the bloodstream is then discussed, including bubble dissolution in blood, bubble rheology and biological interactions for the different cases of bubble and blood composition considered.

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