Ultrasound is used for breast cancer detection as a technique complementary to mammography, the standard screening method. Current practice is based on reflectivity images obtained with conventional instruments by an operator who positions the ultrasonic transducer by hand over the patient’s body. It is a non-ionizing radiation, pain-free and not expensive technique that provides a higher contrast than mammography to discriminate among fluid-filled cysts and solid masses, especially for dense breast tissue. However, results are quite dependent on the operator’s skills, images are difficult to reproduce, and state-of-the-art instruments have a limited resolution and contrast to show micro-calcifications and to discriminate between lesions and the surrounding tissue. In spite of their advantages, these factors have precluded the use of ultrasound for screening. This work approaches the ultrasound-based early detection of breast cancer with a different concept. A ring array with many elements to cover 360◦ around a hanging breast allows obtaining repeatable and operator-independent coronal slice images. Such an arrangement is well suited for multi-modal imaging that includes reflectivity, compounded, tomography, and phase coherence images for increased specificity in breast cancer detection. Preliminary work carried out with a mechanical emulation of the ring array and a standard breast phantom shows a high resolution and contrast, with an artifact-free capability provided by phase coherence processing.
Synthetic aperture (SA) technique is a novel approach to present day commercial systems and has previously not been used in medical ultrasound imaging. The basic idea of SA is to combine information acquired simultaneously from all directions over a number of emissions and to reconstruct the full image from these data. The paper presents the multi-element STA (MSTA) method for medical ultrasound imaging. The main difference with the STA approach is the use of a few elements in the transmit mode in contrast to a single element aperture. This allows increasing the system frame rate, decreasing the number of emissions, and provides the best compromise between the penetration depth and lateral resolution. Besides, a modified MSTA is proposed with a corresponding RF signal correction in the receive mode, which accounts for the element directivity property. In the experiments a 32-element linear transducer array with 0.48 mm inter-element spacing and a burst pulse of 100 ns duration were used. Two elements wide transmission aperture was used to generate an ultrasound wave covering the full image region. The comparison of 2D ultrasound images of a tissue mimicking phantom obtained using the STA and MSTA methods is presented to demonstrate the benefits of the second one.
The paper presents the optimization problem for the multi-element synthetic transmit aperture method (MSTA) in ultrasound imaging applications. The optimal choice of the transmit aperture size is made as a trade-off between the lateral resolution, penetration depth and the frame rate. Results of the analysis obtained by a developed optimization algorithm are presented. The maximum penetration depth and lateral resolution at given depths are chosen as optimization criteria. The results of numerical experiments carried out in MATLAB® using synthetic aperture data of point reflectors obtained by the FIELD II simulation program are presented. The visualization of experimental synthetic aperture data of a tissue mimicking phantom and in vitro measurements of the beef liver performed using the SonixTOUCH Research system are also shown.
The pathological states of biological tissue are often resulted in attenuation changes. Thus, information about attenuating properties of tissue is valuable for the physician and could be useful in ultrasonic diagnosis. We are currently developing a technique for parametric imaging of attenuation and we intend to apply it for in vivo characterization of tissue. The attenuation estimation method based on the echoes mean frequency changes due to tissue attenuation dispersion, is presented. The Doppler IQ technique was adopted to estimate the mean frequency directly from the raw RF data. The Singular Spectrum Analysis technique was used for the extraction of mean frequency trends. These trends were converted into attenuation distribution and finally the parametric images were computed. In order to reduce variation of attenuation estimates the spatial compounding method was applied. Operation and accuracy of attenuation extracting procedure was verified by calculating the attenuation coefficient distribution using the data from the tissue phantom (DFS, Denmark) with uniform echogenicity while attenuation coefficient underwent variation.
Commercially available cardiac scanners use 64–128 elements phased-array (PA) probes and classical delay-and-sum beamforming to reconstruct a sector B-mode image. For portable and hand-held scanners, which are the fastest growing market, channel count reduction can greatly decrease the total power and cost of devices. The introduction of ultra-fast imaging methods based on plane waves and diverging waves provides new insight into heart’s moving structures and enables the implementation of new myocardial assessment and advanced flow estimation methods, thanks to much higher frame rates. The goal of this study was to show the feasibility of reducing the channel count in the diverging wave synthetic aperture image reconstruction method for phased-arrays. The application of ultra-fast 32-channel subaperture imaging combined with spatial compounding allowed the frame rate of approximately 400 fps for 120 mm visualization to be achieved with image quality obtained on par with the classical 64-channel beamformer. Specifically, it was shown that the proposed method resulted in image quality metrics (lateral resolution, contrast and contrast-to-noise ratio), for a visualization depth not exceeding 50 mm, that were comparable with the classical PA beamforming. For larger visualization depths (80–100 mm) a slight degradation of the above parameters was observed. In conclusion, diverging wave phased-array imaging with reduced number of channels is a promising technology for low-cost, energy efficient hand-held cardiac scanners.
The main objective of this study is to improve the ultrasound image by employing a new algorithm based on transducer array element beam pattern correction implemented in the synthetic transmit aperture (STA) method combined with emission of mutually orthogonal complementary Golay sequences. Orthogonal Golay sequences can be transmitted and received by different transducer elements simultaneously, thereby decreasing the time of image reconstruction, which plays an important role in medical diagnostic imaging. The paper presents the preliminary results of computer simulation of the synthetic aperture method combined with the orthogonal Golay sequences in a linear transducer array. The transmission of long waveforms characterized by a particular autocorrelation function allows to increase the total energy of the transmitted signal without increasing the peak pressure. It can also improve the signal-to-noise ratio and increase the visualization depth maintaining the ultrasound image resolution. In the work, the 128-element linear transducer array with a 0.3 mm pitch excited by 8-bits Golay coded sequences as well as one cycle at nominal frequencies of 4 MHz were used. The comparison of 2D ultrasound images of the phantoms is presented to demonstrate the benefits of a coded transmission. The image reconstruction was performed using the synthetic STA algorithm with transmit and receive signals correction based on a single element directivity function.
Therapeutic and surgical applications of focused ultrasound require monitoring of local temperature rises induced inside tissues. From an economic and practical point of view ultrasonic imaging techniques seem to be the most suitable for the temperature control. This paper presents an implementation of the ultrasonic echoes displacement estimation technique for monitoring of local temperature rise in tissue during its heating by focused ultrasound The results of the estimation were compared to the temperature measured with thermocouple. The obtained results enable to evaluate the temperature fields induced in tissues by pulsed focused ultrasonic beams using non-invasive imaging ultrasound technique
The paper presents the theoretical and experimental study of synthetic transmit aperture (STA) method combined with Golay coded transmission for medical ultrasound imaging applications. The transmission of long waveforms characterized by a particular autocorrelation function allows to increase the total energy of the transmitted signal without increasing the peak pressure. It can also improve signal-to-noise ratio and increase the visualization depth maintaining the ultrasound image resolution. In the work the 128-element linear transducer array with 0.3 mm pitch excited by the 8 and 16-bits Golay coded sequences as well as a one cycle at nominal frequencies 4 MHz were used. The comparison of 2D ultrasound images of the tissue mimicking phantoms is presented to demonstrate the benefits of coded transmission. The image reconstruction was performed using synthetic STA algorithm with transmit and receive signals correction based on a single element directivity function.