Clinical applications of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound and its potential role in urology
Low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) is a form of ultrasound that delivered at a much lower intensity (<3 W/cm2) than traditional ultrasound energy and output in the mode of pulse wave, and it is typically used for therapeutic purpose in rehabilitation medicine. LIPUS has minimal thermal effects due to its low intensity and pulsed output mode, and its non-thermal effects which is normally claimed to induce therapeutic changes in tissues attract most researchers’ attentions. LIPUS have been demonstrated to have a rage of biological effects on tissues, including promoting bone-fracture healing, accelerating soft-tissue regeneration, inhibiting inflammatory responses and so on. Recent studies showed that biological effects of LIPUS in healing morbid body tissues may be mainly associated with the upregulation of cell proliferation through activation of integrin receptors and Rho/ROCK/Src/ERK signaling pathway, and with promoting multilineage differentiation of mesenchyme stem/progenitor cell lines through ROCK-Cot/Tpl2-MEK-ERK signaling pathway. Hopefully, LIPUS may become an effective clinical procedure for the treatment of urological diseases, such as chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), erectile dysfunction (ED), and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in the field of urology. It still needs an intense effort for basic-science and clinical investigators to explore the biomedical applications of ultrasound.