We report studies of the growth of a cavitation bubble in terms of the development of hydrodynamic pressures within the liquid close to the expanding bubble’s surface. The results of this study are discussed in terms of the possible consequences of cavitation bubble expansion in Newtonian and non-Newtonian, shear-thinning fluids (such as synovial fluid). Contrary to previous indications in the literature, non-Newtonian (specifically, shear-thinning) behaviour is found to be significant in this context, insofar as it may result in markedly enhanced tensions due to the pressure waves developed about a growing bubble during the latter stages of its expansion phase. The magnitude of the tensions so developed are compared with estimates of cavitation thresholds (Fc ) which are obtained from experiments involving the reflection of pulsed ultrasound at a flexible boundary. Under some circumstances the tensions developed about the growing cavity are shown to be commensurate with Fc. The possible consequences of these findings are discussed in terms of cavitation damage to blood vessels or other biological tissues.

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