In the paper the concept of synthetic aperture used for high resolution/high frame rate ultrasonic imaging is reviewed. The synthetic aperture technique allows building extended “virtual” apertures, synthesized from smaller real aperture resulting in improved lateral resolution along full penetration depth without sacrificing the frame rate. Especially, four methods, synthetic aperture focusing (SAF), multi-element synthetic aperture focusing (M-SAF), synthetic receive aperture (SRA) and synthetic transmit aperture (STA) are addressed. The effective aperture function, describing two-way, far field radiation is a useful tool in beam pattern analysis. Some basic notations, which are used to calculate the effective aperture are introduced in Appendix.
Quantitative ultrasound has been widely used for tissue characterization. In this paper we propose a new approach for tissue compression assessment. The proposed method employs the relation between the tissue scatterers’ local spatial distribution and the resulting frequency power spectrum of the backscattered ultrasonic signal. We show that due to spatial distribution of the scatterers, the power spectrum exhibits characteristic variations. These variations can be extracted using the empirical mode decomposition and analyzed. Validation of our approach is performed by simulations and in-vitro experiments using a tissue sample under compression. The scatterers in the compressed tissue sample approach each other and consequently, the power spectrum of the backscattered signal is modified. We present how to assess this phenomenon with our method. The proposed in this paper approach is general and may provide useful information on tissue scattering properties.
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.
A trabecular bone consists of trabeculae whose mechanical properties differ significantly from the surrounding marrow, therefore an ultrasonic wave propagating within the bone structure is strongly scattered. The aim of this paper was to evaluate the contribution of the first, second and higher order scattering (multiple scattering) into the total scattering of ultrasound in a trabecular bone. The scattering due to the interconnections between thick trabeculae, usually neglected in trabecular bone models, has been also studied. The basic element in our model of the trabecular bone was an elastic cylinder with a various finite-length and diameter as well as orientation. The applied model was taking into account variation of both, elements size and their spatial configuration. The field scattered on the bone model was evaluated by solving numerically the integral form of the generalized Sturm-Liouville equation describing a scalar wave in inhomogeneous and lossy media. For the scattered fields calculated numerically the effective cross-sections were determined. The influence of absorption on the scattering coefficients was demonstrated. The results allowed to conclude that within the frequency range from 0.5 to 1.5 MHz contribution of the second order scattering to the effective backscattering cross-section is at least 500 times lower than that due to the first order scattering. It was noticed that for a frequency higher than 1.5 MHz fast growth of the backscattering (reflection) coefficients, calculated for the second order scattering, occurs.
The attenuating properties of biological tissue are of great importance in ultrasonic medical imaging. Investigations performed in vitro and in vivo showed the correlation between pathological changes in the tissue and variation of the attenuation coefficient. In order to estimate the attenuation we have used the downshift of mean frequency (fm) of the interrogating ultrasonic pulse propagating in the medium. To determine the fm along the propagation path we have applied the fm estimator (I/Q algorithm adopted from the Doppler mean frequency estimation technique). The mean-frequency shift trend was calculated using Single Spectrum Analysis. Next, the trends were converted into attenuation coefficient distributions and finally the parametric images were computed. The RF data were collected in simulations and experiments applying the synthetic aperture (SA) transmit-receiving scheme. In measurements the ultrasonic scanner enabling a full control of the transmission and reception was used. The resolution and accuracy of the method was verified using tissue mimicking phantom with uniform echogenicity but varying attenuation coefficient.
Ultrasonic methods of human body internal structures imaging are being continuously enhanced. New algorithms are created to improve certain output parameters. A synthetic aperture method (SA) is an example which allows to display images at higher frame-rate than in case of conventional beam-forming method. Higher computational complexity is a limitation of SA method and it can prevent from obtaining a desired reconstruction time. This problem can be solved by neglecting a part of data. Obviously it implies a decrease of imaging quality, however a proper data reduction technique would minimize the image degradation. A proposed way of data reduction can be used with synthetic transmit aperture method (STA) and it bases on an assumption that a signal obtained from any pair of transducers is the same, no matter which transducer transmits and which receives. According to this postulate, nearly a half of the data can be ignored without image quality decrease. The presented results of simulations and measurements with use of wire and tissue phantom prove that the proposed data reduction technique reduces the amount of data to be processed by half, while maintaining resolution and allowing only a small decrease of SNR and contrast of resulting images.
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 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.
Many therapeutic applications of pulsed focused ultrasound are based on heating of detected lesions which may be localized in tissues at different depths under the skin. In order to concentrate the acoustic energy inside tissues at desired depths a new approach using a planar multi-element annular array transducer with an electronically adjusted time-delay of excitation of its elements, was proposed. The 7-elements annular array transducer with 2.4 MHz center operating frequency and 20 mm outer diameter was produced. All its elements (central disc and 6 rings) had the same radiating area. The main purpose of this study was to investigate thermal fields induced in bovine liver in vitro by pulsed focused ultrasonic beams with various acoustic properties and electronically steered focal plane generated from the annular array transducer used. The measurements were performed for the radiating beams with the 20 mm focal depth. In order to maximize nonlinear effects introducing the important local temperature rise, the measurements have been performed in two-layer media comprising of a water layer, whose thickness was specific for the transducer used and equal to 13 mm, and the second layer of a bovine liver with a thickness of 20 mm. The thickness of the water layer was determined numerically as the axial distance where the amplitude of the second harmonics started to increase rapidly. The measurements of the temperature rise versus time were performed using a thermocouple placed inside the liver at the focus of the beam. The temperature rise induced in the bovine liver in vitro by beams with the average acoustic power of 1W, 2 W and 3 W and duty cycle of 1/5, 1/15 and 1/30, respectively, have been measured. For each beam used the exposure time needed for the local tissue heating to the temperature of 43°C (used in therapies based on ultrasonic enhancement of drug delivery or in therapies involving stimulation of immune system by enhancement of the heat shock proteins expression) and to the temperature of 56°C (used in HIFU therapies) was determined. Two sets of measurements were done for each beam considered. First, the thermocouple measurement of the temperature rise was done and next, the real-time monitoring of dynamics of growth of the necrosis area by using ultrasonic imaging technique, while the sample was exposed to the same acoustic beam. It was found that the necrosis area becomes visible in the ultrasonic image only for beams with the average acoustic power of 3 W, although after cutting the sample the thermo ablated area was visible with the naked eye even for the beams with lower acoustic power. The quantitative analysis of the obtained results allowed to determine the exposure time needed to get the necrosis area visible in the ultrasonic image.
The paper presents a classification of the healthy skin and the skin lesions (basal cell carcinoma) basing on a statistics of the envelope of ultrasonic echoes. The echoes envelopes distributions were modeled using Rayleigh and K-distribution. The distributions were compared with empirical data to find which of them better models the statistics of the echo-signal obtained from the human skin. The results indicated that the K-distribution provides a better fit. Also, a characteristic parameter of the K-distribution, the effective number of scatterers (M), was investigated. The values of the M parameter, obtained for the skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma), were lower as compared to those obtained for the healthy skin. The results indicate that the statistical quantitative ultrasound parameters have a potential for extracting information useful for characterization of the skin condition.
The main objective of this study is to develop an echocardiographic model of the left ventricular and numerical modeling of the speckles- markers tracking in the ultrasound (ultrasonographic) imaging of the left ventricle. The work is aimed at the creation of controlled and mobile environment that enables to examine the relationships between left ventricular wall deformations and visualizations of these states in the form of echocardiographic imaging and relations between the dynamically changing distributions of tissue markers of studied structures.
The soft tissue attenuation is an interesting parameter from medical point of view, because the value of attenuation coefficient is often related to the state of the tissue. Thus, the imaging of the attenuation coefficient distribution within the tissue could be a useful tool for ultrasonic medical diagnosis. The method of attenuation estimation based on tracking of the mean frequency changes in a backscattered signal is presented in this paper. The attenuation estimates are characterized by high variance due to stochastic character of the backscattered ultrasonic signal and some special methods must be added to data processing to improve the resulting images. The following paper presents the application of Spatial Compounding (SC), Frequency Compounding (FC) and the combination of both. The resulting parametric images are compared by means of root-mean-square errors. The results show that combined SC and FC techniques significantly improve the quality and accuracy of parametric images of attenuation distribution.
Texture of ultrasound images contain information about the properties of examined tissues. The analysis of statistical properties of backscattered ultrasonic echoes has been recently successfully applied to differentiate healthy breast tissue from the benign and malignant lesions. We propose a novel procedure of tissue characterization based on acquiring backscattered echoes from the heated breast. We have proved that the temperature increase inside the breast modifies the intensity, spectrum of the backscattered signals and the probability density function of envelope samples. We discuss the differences in probability density functions in two types of tissue regions, e.g. cysts and the surrounding glandular tissue regions. Independently, Pennes bioheat equation in heterogeneous breast tissue was used to describe the heating process. We applied the finite element method to solve this equation. Results have been compared with the ultrasonic predictions of the temperature distribution. The results confirm the possibility of distinguishing the differences in thermal and acoustical properties of breast cyst and surrounding glandular tissues.
The results of activity studies of four catalysts in methanol synthesis have been presented. A standard industrial catalyst TMC-3/1 was compared with two methanol catalysts promoted by the addition of magnesium and one promoted by zirconium. The kinetic analysis of the experimental results shows that the Cu/Zn/Al/Mg/1 catalyst was the least active. Although TMC-3/1 and Cu/Zn/Al/Mg/2 catalysts were characterised by a higher activity, the most active catalyst system was Cu/Zn/Al/Zr. The activity calculated for zirconium doped catalyst under operating conditions was approximately 30% higher that of TMC-3/1catalyst. The experimental data were used to identify the rate equations of two types - one purely empirical power rate equation and the other one - the Vanden Bussche & Froment kinetic model of methanol synthesis. The Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst modified with zirconium has the highest application potential in methanol synthesis.
The use of therapeutic ultrasound continues to grow. A focused ultrasonic wave can increase the tissue temperature locally for the non-invasive cancer treatment or other medical applications. The authors have designed a seven-element annular array transducer operating at 2.4 MHz. Each element was excited by sine burst supplied by a linear amplifier and FPGA control circuits. The acoustic field, generated by a transducer was initially numerically simulated in a computer and next compared to water tank hydrophone measurements performed at 20, 40 and 60 mm focal depth. The results showed good agreement of the measurements with theory and the possibility to focus the ultrasound in the preselected area. The total acoustic power radiated by the annular array was equal to 2.4 W.
Recently a new technology of piezoelectric transducers based on PZT thick film has been developed as a response to a call for devices working at higher frequencies suitable for production in large numbers at low cost. Eight PZT thick film based focused transducers with resonant frequency close to 40 MHz were fabricated and experimentally investigated. The PZT thick films were deposited on acoustically engineered ceramic substrates by pad printing. Considering high frequency and non-linear propagation it has been decided to evaluate the axial pressure field emitted (and reflected by thick metal plate) by each of concave transducer differing in radius of curvature - 11 mm, 12 mm, 15 mm, 16 mm. All transducers were activated using AVTEC AVG-3A-PS transmitter and Ritec diplexer connected directly to Agilent 54641D oscilloscope. As anticipated, in all cases the focal distance was up to 10% closer to the transducer face than the one related to the curvature radius. Axial pressure distributions were also compared to the calculated ones (with the experimentally determined boundary conditions) using the angular spectrum method including nonlinear propagation in water. The computed results are in a very good agreement with the experimental ones. The transducers were excited with Golay coded sequences at 35-40 MHz. Introducing the coded excitation allowed replacing the short-burst transmission at 20 MHz with the same peak amplitude pressure, but with almost double center frequency, resulting in considerably better axial resolution. The thick films exhibited at least 30% bandwidth broadening comparing to the standard PZ 27 transducer, resulting in an increase in matching filtering output by a factor of 1.4-1.5 and finally resulting in a SNR gain of the same order.