High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) can be used for the localized heating of biological tissue through the conversion of sound waves into heat. Although originally developed for human medicine, HIFU may also be used to weaken the attachment of pin bones in fish fillets to enable easier removal of such bones. This was shown in the present study, where a series of experiments were performed on HIFU phantoms and fillets of cod and salmon. In thin objects such as fish fillets, the heat is mainly dissipated at the surfaces. However, bones inside the fillet absorb ultrasound energy more efficiently than the surrounding tissue, resulting in a “self-focusing” heating of the bones. Salmon skin was found to effectively block the ultrasound, resulting in a significantly lower heating effect in fillets with skin. Cod skin partly blocked the ultrasound, but only to a small degree, enabling HIFU treatment through the skin. The treatment of fillets to reduce the pin bone attachment yielded an average reduction in the required pulling force by 50% in cod fillets with skin, with little muscle denaturation, and 72% in skinned fillets, with significant muscle denaturation. Salmon fillets were treated from the muscle side of the fillet to circumvent the need for penetration through skin. The treatment resulted in a 30% reduction in the peak pulling force and 10% reduction in the total pulling work, with a slight denaturation of the fillet surface.
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