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Free Content The acoustic lighthouse effect: An ultrasonic response met in eyes after vitreoretinal surgery with silicone oil

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To discuss and possibly explain the ultrasonic lighthouse effect, a metaphor suggested for an artifact-like phenomenon sometimes found by B-scan in eyes having had intra-ocular perfluorocarbon and/or silicone oil injected as part of vitreoretinal surgery.


Analysis of the ultrasonic findings with a view to the specific gravities of the above injected substances. Compared to water, perfluorocarbon has a higher and silicone oil a lower gravity; they are heavy and light, respectively.


The elicited lighthouse effect may appear localized or ‘mobile’. When evoked only from specific positions on the globe, most likely it is explained by a lens-like accumulation of material trapped at the vitreous base just under the transducer. When mobile it depends on head position; there is a gravitational shift in position of the material, as evident in particular when becoming visible in the anterior chamber.


In case reports in literature slit-lamp verified anterior segment perfluorocarbon remnants have caused acoustic disturbances of a similar nature. In this study we found evidence that also silicone oil can underlie the acoustic lighthouse effect.

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Keywords: B-scan ultrasonography; acoustic artifact; perfluorocarbon; silicone oil; vitreoretinal surgery

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Rigshospitalet, University Eye Clinic, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2000-02-01

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