Phonophoresis and topical drug delivery

  • Victor M. Meidan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In this study, investigations into phonophoresis were conducted by employing 3 distinct in vitro models. The aim of the first model was to evaluate the effect of ultrasound on the migration rate of different classes of molecules through agar gel. The derived data suggested that small, relatively hydrophobic molecules are more susceptible to ultrasound-enhanced diffusion through the water-filled channels of the agar gel. The application of heat alone increased drug migration by a similar magnitude as the ultrasound, indicating that ultrasonic heating directly increases the thermodynamic potential for diffusion. In the second experimental system, whole rat skin was pre-sonicated and then examined for changes in its barrier properties. At high intensities (1 to 2W cm-2), ultrasonic waves irreversibly compromised the barrier properties of the skin, following the general patterns described in the literature reports. At low intensities (< 1W cm-2), ultrasound discharged sebum from the sebaceous glands so as to fill much of the hair follicle shafts. This entirely novel phenomenon is probably produced by the mechanical effects of the beam. The deposition of sebaceous lipids within the hair follicle shafts can mean that this absorption pathway is blocked for hydrophilic molecules that penetrate via this route. Consequently, this phenomenon can be utilised as a probe to measure the relative follicular contribution to total penetration for these molecules. In the final phonophoresis model, modified Franz cells were employed in order to assess the ultrasound effect on the concurrent transdermal permeation of various molecules through whole rat skin. For the most lipophilic agent tested, the rate-limiting step of absorption was partitioning from the stratum corneum into the viable epidermis. Sonication did not accelerate this step.
Date of Award1996
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBill Irwin (Supervisor) & Damien Walmsley (Supervisor)


  • Phonophoresis
  • topical drug delivery

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