Transcutaneous Acoustic Palpation (TAP) for localizing painful pathology


To demonstrate the use of intense-focused ultrasound in identifying the source of deep pain

Anticipated Impact: 

Improved diagnosis of painful medical conditions


Pain, acute or chronic, is a hallmark of many diseases and disorders. In a number of maladies, localizing the source or origin of the pain is difficult, if not impossible. Pain that cannot be localized is very difficult to diagnose and treat. The investigators have developed a means to non-invasively localize painful tissues—especially the deep tissue beyond a health care practitioner’s touch. The method uses intense-focused ultrasound to generate increased sensations deep within tissues that help to localize the source of pain. Using a transcutaneous acoustic palpation (TAP) device, the researchers will test pain localization in controlled experiments. The TAP device aims at improving the diagnosis of painful conditions, leading to more rapid delivery of therapies and improving patient outcomes. With better pain diagnosis, TAP could potentially reduce the billions of dollars spent annually in the U.S. for managing pain and its related economic consequences.

See also:

Pain Detection, Localization

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Pierre Mourad
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Transcutaneous Acoustic Palpation (TAP) for localizing painful pathology
Grant Cohort and Year:
2008 Innovative Research Projects to Improve Health and Health Care (01)
Grant Period:
01/06/2009 - 01/05/2012 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
we have shown that intense focused ultrasound preferentially stimulates inflamed or neuropathic tissue, including focal and subcutaneous neuropathic tissue. This offers quite significant potential diagnostic utility for pain, hence offers the likelihood of improving the treatment of that pain.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 41, 43, 46, 48

Health Impacts

Pain Detection, Localization