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The influence of finite aperture and frequency response of piezoelectric ultrasonic hydrophone probes on the free-field pulse intensity integral (PII) and mechanical index (MI) was investigated using a comprehensive acoustic wave propagation model. The model developed was capable of predicting the true pressure-time waveforms at virtually any point in the field. The input to the model used pressure amplitude data measured in the immediate vicinity of the acoustic source or transducer considered. The experimental verification of the model was obtained using a commercially available, 8 MHz, dynamically focused linear array and a single element, 5 MHz, focused rectangular source. The verification was performed at low and high excitation levels, corresponding to linear and nonlinear acoustic wave propagation, respectively. The pressure-time waveforms were recorded using piezoelectric polymer hydrophone probes that had different sensitivities, frequency responses, bandwidths, and active element diameters. The nominal diameters of the probes ranged from 50 to 500 /spl mu/m, and their useable bandwidths varied between 55 and 100 MHz. The PII, used to calculate the thermal index (TI), was found to increase with increasing bandwidth and decreasing effective aperture of the probes. The MI, another safety indicator, also was affected, but to a lesser extent. The corrections predicted using the model were used to reduce discrepancies as large as 30% in the determination of PII. The results of this work indicate that, by accounting for hydrophones' finite aperture and correcting the value of PII, all intensities derived from the PII can be corrected for spatial averaging error. The results also point out that caution should be exercised when comparing acoustic output data. In particular, hydrophone's frequency characteristics of the effective diameter and sensitivity are needed to correctly determine the MI, TI, and the total acoustic output power produced by an imaging transd- - ucer.