Ultrasound-induced thermal strain imaging (US-TSI) for carotid artery plaque detection requires both high imaging resolution (<100 μm) and sufficient US induced heating to elevate the tissue temperature (~1-3°C within 1-3 cardiac cycles) in order to produce a noticeable change in sound speed in the targeted tissues. Since the optimization of both imaging and heating in a monolithic array design is particularly expensive and inflexible, a new integrated approach is presented that utilizes independent ultrasound arrays to meet the requirements for this particular application. This work demonstrates a new approach in dual-array construction. A 3D printed manifold was built to support both a high resolution 20 MHz commercial imaging array and 6 custom heating elements operating in the 3.5-4 MHz range. For the application of US-TSI on carotid plaque characterization, the tissue target site is 20 to 30 mm deep, with a typical target volume of 2 mm (elevation) × 8 mm (azimuthal) × 5 mm (depth). The custom heating array performance was fully characterized for two design variants (flat and spherical apertures), and can easily deliver 30 W of total acoustic power to produce intensities greater than 15 W/cm2 in tissue target region.
The objective of this study is to investigate cardiac bioeffects resulting from ultrasonic stimulation using a specific set of acoustical parameters. Ten Sprague–Dawley rats were anesthetized and exposed to 1-MHz ultrasound pulses of 3-MPa peak rarefactional pressure and approximately 1% duty factor. The pulse repetition frequency started slightly above the heart rate and was decreased by 1 Hz every 10 s, for a total exposure duration of 30 s. The control group was composed of five rats. Two-way analysis of variance for repeated measures and Bonferroni post hoc tests were used to compare heart rate and ejection fraction, which was used as an index of myocardial contractility. It was demonstrated for the first time that transthoracic ultrasound has the potential to decrease the heart rate by ~20%. The negative chronotropic effect lasted for at least 15 min after ultrasound exposure and there was no apparent gross damage to the cardiac tissue.
Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) suffers from the fact that it can produce residual stone fragments of significant size (>2 mm). Mechanistically, cavitation has been shown to play an important role in the reduction of such fragments to smaller debris. In this study we assessed the feasibility of using cavitationally-based pulsed ultrasound therapy (histotripsy) to erode kidney stones. Previous work has shown that histotripsy is capable of mechanically fractionating soft tissue into fine, acellular debris. Here, we investigated the potential for translating this technology to renal calculi through the use of a commonly accepted stone model, Ultracal-30 cement. Stones were sonicated using a 1-MHz focused transducer, with 5-cycle pulses delivered at a rate of 1 kHz. Pulses having peak negative pressures ranging from 3–21 MPa were tested. Results indicate that histotripsy is capable of effectively eroding the Ultracal-30 model, achieving an average stone erosion rate of 26 mg/min at maximum treatment pressure; substantial stone erosion was only observed in the presence of a dense cavitational bubble cloud. Sequential sieving of residual stone fragments indicated that debris produced by histotripsy was smaller than 100 μm in size, and treatment monitoring showed that both the cavitational bubble cloud and model stone appear as hyperechoic regions on B-mode imaging. These preliminary results indicate that histotripsy shows promise in its use for stone comminution, and an optimized erosion process may provide a potential adjunct to conventional SWL procedures.
A k-space method for moderately nonlinear wave propagation in absorptive media is presented. The Westervelt equation is first transferred into k-space via Fourier transformation, and is solved by a modified wave-vector time-domain scheme. The present approach is not limited to forward propagation or parabolic approximation. One- and two-dimensional problems are investigated to verify the method by comparing results to analytic solutions and finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method. It is found that to obtain accurate results in homogeneous media, the grid size can be as little as two points per wavelength, and for a moderately nonlinear problem, the Courant–Friedrichs–Lewy number can be as large as 0.4. Through comparisons with the conventional FDTD method, the k-space method for nonlinear wave propagation is shown here to be computationally more efficient and accurate. The k-space method is then employed to study three-dimensional nonlinear wave propagation through the skull, which shows that a relatively accurate focusing can be achieved in the brain at a high frequency by sending a low frequency from the transducer. Finally, implementations of the k-space method using a single graphics processing unit shows that it required about one-seventh the computation time of a single-core CPU calculation.
Stone comminution in shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) has been documented to result from mechanical stresses conferred directly to the stone, as well as the activity of cavitational microbubbles. Studies have demonstrated that the presence of this cavitation activity is crucial for stone subdivision; however, its exact role in the comminution process remains somewhat weakly defined, in part due to the fact that it is difficult to isolate the cavitational component from the shock waves themselves. In this study, we further explored the importance of cavitation in SWL stone comminution through the use of histotripsy ultrasound therapy. Histotripsy was utilized to target model stones designed to mimic the mid-range tensile fracture strength of naturally occurring cystine calculi with controlled cavitation at strategic time points in the SWL comminution process. All SWL was applied at a peak-positive pressure (p+) of 34 MPa and a peak-negative pressure (p−) of 8 MPa; a shock rate of 1 Hz was used. Histotripsy pulses had a p− of 33 MPa and were applied at a pulse repetition frequency (PRF) of 100 Hz. Ten model stones were sonicated in-vitro with each of five different treatment schemes: A. 10 minutes SWL (600 shocks) with 0.7 seconds of histotripsy interleaved between successive shocks (totaling to 42,000 pulses); B. 10 minutes SWL (600 shocks) followed by 10 minutes histotripsy applied in 0.7 second bursts (1 burst per second, totaling to 42,000 pulses); C. 10 minutes histotripsy applied in 0.7 second bursts (42,000 pulses) followed by 10 minutes SWL (600 shocks); D. 10 minutes SWL-only (600 shocks); E. 10 minutes histotripsy-only applied in 0.7 second bursts (42,000 pulses). Following sonication, debris was collected and sieved through 8, 6, 4, and 2 mm filters. It was found that SWL-only generated a broad range of fragment sizes, with an average of 14.9 ± 24.1% of the original stone mass remaining >8 mm. Histotripsy-only eroded the surface of stones to tiny particulate debris that was small enough to pass through the finest filter used in this study (<2 mm), leaving behind a single primary stone piece (>8 mm) with mass 85.1 ± 1.6% of the original following truncated sonication. The combination of SWL and histotripsy (schemes A, B, and C) resulted in a shift in the size distribution toward smaller fragments and complete elimination of debris >8 mm. When histotripsy controlled cavitation was applied following SWL (B), the increase in exposed stone surface area afforded by shock wave stone subdivision led to enhanced cavitation erosion. When histotripsy controlled cavitation was applied prior to SWL (C), it is likely that stone surface defects induced by cavitation erosion provided sights for crack nucleation and accelerated shock wave stone subdivision. Both these effects are likely at play in the interleaved therapy (A), although shielding of shock waves by remnant histotripsy microbubble nuclei may have limited the efficacy of this scheme. Nevertheless, these results demonstrate the important role played by cavitation in the stone comminution process, and suggest that the application of controlled cavitation at strategic time points can provide an adjunct to traditional SWL therapy.
Two phantoms have been constructed for assessing the performance of high frequency ultrasound imagers. They also allow for periodic quality assurance tests. The phantoms contain eight blocks of tissue-mimicking material where each block contains a spatially random distribution of suitably small anechoic spheres having a small distribution of diameters. The eight mean sphere diameters are distributed from 0.10 to 1.09 mm. The two phantoms differ primarily in terms of the backscatter coefficient of the background material in which the spheres are suspended. The mean scatterer diameter for one phantom is larger than that for the other phantom resulting in a lesser increase in backscatter coefficient for the second phantom; however, the backscatter curves cross at about 35 MHz. Since spheres have no preferred orientation, all three (spatial) dimensions of resolution contribute to sphere detection on an equal basis; thus, the resolution is termed 3-D. Two high frequency scanners are compared. One employs single-element (fixed focus) transducers, and the other employs variable focus linear arrays. The nominal frequency for the single element transducers were 25 and 55 MHz and for the linear array transducers were 20, 30 and 40 MHz. The depth range for detection of spheres of each size is determined corresponding to determination of 3-D resolution as a function of depth. As expected, the single-element transducers are severely limited in useful imaging depth ranges compared with the linear arrays. Note that these phantoms could also be useful for training technicians in using higher frequency scanners.
3-D resolution; high frequency; phantoms; ultrasound
A dual-curvature focused ultrasound phased-array transducer with a symmetric control has been developed for noninvasive ablative treatment of tumors. The 1.5-D array was constructed in-house and the electro-acoustic conversion efficiency was measured to be approximately 65%. In vitro experiments demonstrated that the array uses 256 independent elements to achieve 2-D wide-range high-intensity electronic focusing.
The real-time application of acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) imaging requires both short acquisition times for a single ARFI image and repeated acquisition of these frames. Due to the high energy of pulses required to generate appreciable radiation force, however, repeated acquisitions could result in substantial transducer face and tissue heating. We describe and evaluate several novel beam sequencing schemes which, along with parallel-receive acquisition, are designed to reduce acquisition time and heating. These techniques reduce the total number of radiation force impulses needed to generate an image and minimize the time between successive impulses. We present qualitative and quantitative analyses of the trade-offs in image quality resulting from the acquisition schemes. Results indicate that these techniques yield a significant improvement in frame rate with only moderate decreases in image quality. Tissue and transducer face heating resulting from these schemes is assessed through finite element method modeling and thermocouple measurements. Results indicate that heating issues can be mitigated by employing ARFI acquisition sequences that utilize the highest track-to-excitation ratio possible.
Visualization of the blood vessels can provide valuable morphological information for diagnosis and therapy strategies for cardiovascular disease. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is able to delineate internal structures of vessel wall with fine spatial resolution. However, the developed IVUS is insufficient to identify the fibrous cap thickness and tissue composition of atherosclerotic lesions. Novel imaging strategies have been proposed, such as increasing the center frequency of ultrasound or using a modulated excitation technique to improve the accuracy of diagnosis. Dual-mode tomography combining IVUS with optical tomography has also been developed to determine tissue morphology and characteristics. The implementation of these new imaging methods requires an open system that allows users to customize the system for various studies. This paper presents the development of an IVUS system that has open structures to support various imaging strategies. The system design is based on electronic components and printed circuit board, and provides reconfigurable hardware implementation, programmable image processing algorithms, flexible imaging control, and raw RF data acquisition. In addition, the proposed IVUS system utilized a miniaturized ultrasound transducer constructed using PMN-PT single crystal for better piezoelectric constant and electromechanical coupling coefficient than traditional lead zirconate titanate (PZT) ceramics. Testing results showed that the IVUS system could offer a minimum detectable signal of 25 μV, allowing a 51 dB dynamic range at 47 dB gain, with a frequency range from 20 to 80 MHz. Finally, phantom imaging, in vitro IVUS vessel imaging, and multimodality imaging with photoacoustics were conducted to demonstrate the performance of the open system.
Quantitative ultrasonic techniques using backscatter coefficients (BSCs) may fail to produce physically meaningful estimates of effective scatterer diameter (ESD) when the analysis media contains scatterers of different sizes. In this work, three different estimator algorithms were used to produce estimates of ESD. The performance of the three estimators was compared over different frequency bands using simulations and experiments with physical phantoms. All estimators produced ESD estimates by comparing the estimated BSCs with a scattering model based on the backscattering cross-section of a single spherical fluid scatterer. The first estimator consisted of minimizing the average square deviation of the ratio between the estimated BSCs and the scattering model with both expressed in decibels. The second and third estimators consisted of minimizing the mean square error between the estimated BSCs and a linear transformation of the scattering model with and without considering an intercept, respectively. Simulations were conducted over several analysis bandwidths between 1 and 40 MHz from populations of scatterers with either a uniform size distribution or a distribution based on the inverse cubic of the size. Diameters of the distributions ranged between [25, 100], [25, 50], [50, 100], and [50, 75] μm. Experimental results were obtained from two gelatin phantoms containing Sephadex spheres ranging in diameter from 28 to 130 μm and 70 to 130 μm, respectively, and 5, 7.5, 10, and 13 MHz focused transducers. Significant differences in the performances of the ESD estimator algorithms as a function of the analysis frequency were observed. Specifically, the third estimator exhibited potential to produce physically meaningful ESD estimates even for large ka values when using a single-size scattering model if sufficient analysis bandwidth was available.
Tissue characterization; scatterer size estimation; ultrasound backscatter; ultrasonic imaging
Zebrafish can fully regenerate their myocardium after ventricular resection without evidence of scars. This extraordinary regenerative ability provides an excellent model system to study the activation of the regenerative potential for human heart tissue. In addition to the morphology, it is vital to understand the cardiac function of zebrafish. To characterize adult zebrafish cardiac function, an ultrasound biomicroscope (UBM) was customized for real-time imaging of the zebrafish heart (about 1 mm in diameter) at a resolution of around 37 µm. Moreover, we developed an image segmentation algorithm to track the cardiac boundary and measure the dynamic size of the zebrafish heart for further quantification of zebrafish cardiac function. The effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed segmentation algorithm were verified on a tissue-mimicking phantom and in vivo zebrafish echocardiography. The quantitative evaluation demonstrated that the accuracy of the proposed algorithm is comparable to the manual delineation by experts.
The goal of this research was to develop a novel diced 1–3 piezocomposite geometry to reduce pulse–echo ring down and acoustic crosstalk between high-frequency ultrasonic array elements. Two PZT-5H-based 1–3 composites (10 and 15 MHz) of different pillar geometries [square (SQ), 45° triangle (TR), and pseudo-random (PR)] were fabricated and then made into single-element ultrasound transducers. The measured pulse–echo waveforms and their envelopes indicate that the PR composites had the shortest −20-dB pulse length and highest sensitivity among the composites evaluated. Using these composites, 15-MHz array subapertures with a 0.95λ pitch were fabricated to assess the acoustic crosstalk between array elements. The combined electrical and acoustical crosstalk between the nearest array elements of the PR array sub-apertures (−31.8 dB at 15 MHz) was 6.5 and 2.2 dB lower than those of the SQ and the TR array subapertures, respectively. These results demonstrate that the 1–3 piezocomposite with the pseudo-random pillars may be a better choice for fabricating enhanced high-frequency linear-array ultrasound transducers; especially when mechanical dicing is used.
The paper describes the design, fabrication, and measurements of a high-frequency ultrasound kerfless linear array prepared from hydrothermal lead zirconate titanate (PZT) thick film. The 15-µm hydrothermal PZT thick film with an area of 1 × 1 cm, obtained through a self-separation process from Ti substrate, was used to fabricate a 32-element 100-MHz kerfless linear array with photolithography. The bandwidth at −6 dB without matching layer, insertion loss around center frequency, and crosstalk between adjacent elements were measured to be 39%, −30 dB, and −15 dB, respectively.
Histotripsy is a cavitation-based ultrasound therapy that mechanically fractionates soft solid tissues into fluid-like homogenates. This paper investigates the feasibility of imaging the tissue elasticity change during the histotripsy process as a tool to provide feedback for the treatments. The treatments were performed on agar tissue phantoms and ex vivo kidneys using 3-cycle ultrasound pulses delivered by a 750-kHz therapeutic array at peak negative/positive pressure of 17/108 MPa and a repetition rate of 50 Hz. Lesions with different degrees of damage were created with increasing numbers of therapy pulses from 0 to 2000 pulses per treatment location. The elasticity of the lesions was measured with ultrasound shear wave elastography, in which a quasi-planar shear wave was induced by acoustic radiation force generated by the therapeutic array, and tracked with ultrasound imaging at 3000 frames per second. Based on the shear wave velocity calculated from the sequentially captured frames, the Young’s modulus was reconstructed. Results showed that the lesions were more easily identified on the shear wave velocity images than on B-mode images. As the number of therapy pulses increased from 0 to 2000 pulses/location, the Young’s modulus decreased exponentially from 22.1 ± 2.7 to 2.1 ± 1.1 kPa in the tissue phantoms (R2 = 0.99, N = 9 each), and from 33.0 ± 7.1 to 4.0 ± 2.5 kPa in the ex vivo kidneys (R2 = 0.99, N = 8 each). Correspondingly, the tissues transformed from completely intact to completely fractionated as examined via histology. A good correlation existed between the lesions’ Young’s modulus and the degree of tissue fractionation as examined with the percentage of remaining structurally intact cell nuclei (R2 = 0.91, N = 8 each). These results indicate that lesions produced by histotripsy can be detected with high sensitivity using shear wave elastography. Because the decrease in the tissue elasticity corresponded well with the morphological and histological change, this study provides a basis for predicting the local treatment outcomes from tissue elasticity change.
In this paper, low-frequency 32-element linear-array ultrasonic transducers were designed and fabricated using both ternary Pb(In1/2Nb1/2)–Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)–PbTiO3 (PIN-PMN-PT) and binary Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)–PbTiO3 (PMN-PT) single crystals. Performance of the array transducers was characterized as a function of temperature ranging from room temperature to 160°C. It was found that the array transducers fabricated using the PIN-PMN-PT single crystal were capable of satisfactory performance at 160°C, having a −6-dB bandwidth of 66% and an insertion loss of 37 dB. The results suggest that the potential of PIN-PMN-PT linear-array ultrasonic transducers for high-temperature ultrasonic transducer applications is promising.
Micro-ultrasound is an invaluable imaging tool for many clinical and preclinical applications requiring high resolution (approximately several tens of micrometers). Imaging systems for micro-ultrasound, including single-element imaging systems and linear-array imaging systems, have been developed extensively in recent years. Single-element systems are cheaper, but linear-array systems give much better image quality at a higher expense. Annular-array-based systems provide a third alternative, striking a balance between image quality and expense. This paper presents the development of a novel programmable and real-time annular-array imaging platform for micro-ultrasound. It supports multi-channel dynamic beamforming techniques for large-depth-of-field imaging. The major image processing algorithms were achieved by a novel field-programmable gate array technology for high speed and flexibility. Real-time imaging was achieved by fast processing algorithms and high-speed data transfer interface. The platform utilizes a printed circuit board scheme incorporating state-of-the-art electronics for compactness and cost effectiveness. Extensive tests including hardware, algorithms, wire phantom, and tissue mimicking phantom measurements were conducted to demonstrate good performance of the platform. The calculated contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) of the tissue phantom measurements were higher than 1.2 in the range of 3.8 to 8.7 mm imaging depth. The platform supported more than 25 images per second for real-time image acquisition. The depth-of-field had about 2.5-fold improvement compared to single-element transducer imaging.
Time-of-flight methods allow quantitative measurement of shear wave speed (SWS) from ultra-sonically tracked displacements following impulsive, acoustic radiation force excitation in tissue. In heterogeneous materials, reflections at boundaries can distort the wave shape and confound determination of the wave arrival time. The magnitude of these effects depends on the shear wavelength of the excitation, the kernel size used to calculate the SWS, and the method used to determine the wave arrival time. In this study, we perform a parametric analysis of these factors using finite element modeling of the tissue response, and simulated ultrasonic tracking. Two geometries are used, a stiff, vertical layer, and a stiff spherical inclusion, each in a uniform background. Wave arrival times are estimated using the peak displacement, peak slope of the leading edge, and cross correlation methods. Results are evaluated in terms of reconstruction accuracy, resolution, contrast, and contrast-to-noise ratio of reconstructed SWS images. Superior results are obtained using narrower excitation widths and arrival time estimators which identify the leading edge of the propagating wave. The optimal kernel size is determined by a tradeoff between improved accuracy for larger kernels at the expense of spatial resolution.
This two-part study investigated shell rupture of ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) under static overpressure conditions and the subharmonic component from UCAs subjected to 20-MHz tonebursts. Five different polylactide-shelled UCAs with shell-thickness-to-radius ratios (STRRs) of 7.5, 30, 40, 65, and 100 nm/μm were subjected to static overpressure in a glycerol-filled test chamber. A video microscope imaged the UCAs as pressure varied from 2 to 330 kPa over 90 min. Images were postprocessed to obtain the pressure threshold for rupture and the diameter of individual microbubbles. Backscatter from individual UCAs was investigated by flowing a dilute UCA solution through a wall-less flow phantom placed at the geometric focus of a 20-MHz transducer. UCAs were subjected to 10- and 20-cycle tonebursts of acoustic pressures ranging from 0.3 to 2.3 MPa. A method based on singular-value decomposition (SVD) was employed to obtain a cumulative subharmonic score (SHS). Different UCA types exhibited distinctly different rupture thresholds that were linearly related to their STRR, but uncorrelated with UCA size. The rupture threshold for the UCAs with an STRR = 100 nm/μm was more than 4 times greater than the UCAs with an STRR = 7.5 nm/μm. The polymer-shelled UCAs produced substantial subharmonic response but the subharmonic response to 20-MHz excitation did not correlate with STRRs or UCA-rupture pressures. The 20-cycle excitation resulted in an SHS that was 2 to 3 times that of UCAs excited with 10-cycle tonebursts.
Pad-printed thick-film transducers have been shown to be an interesting alternative to lapped bulk piezoceramics, because the film is deposited with the required thickness, size, and geometry, thus avoiding any subsequent machining to achieve geometrical focusing. Their electromechanical properties are close to those of bulk ceramics with similar composition despite having a higher porosity. In this paper, pad-printed high-frequency transducers based on a low-loss piezoceramic composition are designed and fabricated. High-porosity ceramic cylinders with a spherical top surface are used as the backing substrate. The transducers are characterized in view of imaging applications and their imaging capabilities are evaluated with phantoms containing spherical inclusions and in different biological tissues. In addition, the transducers are evaluated for their capability to produce high-acoustic intensities at frequencies around 20 MHz. High-intensity measurements, obtained with a calibrated hydrophone, show that transducer performance is promising for applications that would require the same device to be used for imaging and for therapy. Nevertheless, the transducer design can be improved, and simulation studies are performed to find a better compromise between low-power and high-power performance. The size, geometry, and constitutive materials of optimized configurations are proposed and their feasibility is discussed.
In this work, we present a numerical study of the use of reconfigurable arrays (RCA) for vibro-acoustography (VA) beam formation. A parametric study of the aperture selection, number of channels, number of elements, focal distance, and steering parameters is presented in order to show the feasibility and evaluate the performance of VA imaging based on RCA. The transducer aperture was based on two concentric arrays driven by two continuous-wave or toneburst signals at slightly different frequencies. The mathematical model considers a homogeneous, isotropic, inviscid medium. The point-spread function of the system is calculated based on angular spectrum methods using the Fresnel approximation for rectangular sources. Simulations considering arrays with 50 × 50 to 200 × 200 elements with number of channels varying in the range of 32 to 128 are evaluated to identify the best configuration for VA. Advantages of two dimensional and RCA arrays and aspects related to clinical importance of the RCA implementation in VA such as spatial resolution, image frame-rate, and commercial machine implementation are discussed. It is concluded that RCA transducers can produce spatial resolution similar to confocal transducers, steering is possible in elevation and azimuthal planes, and optimal settings for number of elements, number of channels, maximum steering, and focal distance are suggested for VA clinical application. Furthermore, an optimization for beam steering based on the channel assignment is proposed for balancing the contribution of the two waves in the steered focus.
reconfigurable array; transducer; ultrasound; vibro-acoustography
Electric field mapping is commonly used to identify irregular conduction pathways in the heart (e.g., arrhythmia) and brain (e.g., epilepsy). Ultrasound current source density imaging (UCSDI), based on the acoustoelectric (AE) effect, is a promising new technique for mapping electrical current in four dimensions with enhanced resolution. The frequency and pulse shape of the ultrasound beam affect the sensitivity and spatial resolution of UCSDI. In this study, we explore the effects of ultrasound transducer frequency bandwidth and coded excitation pulses for UCSDI and the inherent tradeoff between sensitivity and spatial resolution. We used both simulations and bench-top experiments to image a time-varying electrical dipole in 0.9% NaCl solution. To study the effects of ultrasound bandwidth, we chose two ultrasound transducers with different center frequencies (1.0 and 2.25 MHz). For coded excitation, we measured the AE voltage signal with different chirp excitations. As expected, higher bandwidth correlated with improved spatial resolution at the cost of sensitivity. On the other hand, chirp excitation significantly improved sensitivity (3.5 μV/mA) compared with conventional square pulse excitation (1.6 μV/mA) at 1 MHz. Pulse compression achieved spatial resolution similar to that obtained using square pulse excitation, demonstrating enhanced detection sensitivity without loss of resolution. Optimization of the time duration of the chirp pulse and frequency sweep rate can be further used to improve the quality of UCSDI.
Composite restorations in modern restorative dentistry rely on the bond formed in the adhesive-infiltrated acid-etched dentin. The physical characteristics of etched dentin are, therefore, of paramount interest. However, characterization of the acid-etched zone in its natural state is fraught with problems stemming from a variety of sources including its narrow size, the presence of water, heterogeneity, and spatial scale dependency. We have developed a novel homotopic (same location) measurement methodology utilizing scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM). Homotopic measurements with SAM overcome the problems encountered by other characterization/ imaging methods. These measurements provide us with acoustic reflectance at the same location of both the pre- and post-etched dentin in its natural state. We have applied this methodology for in vitro measurements on dentin samples. Fourier spectra from acid-etched dentin showed amplitude reduction and shifts of the central frequency that were location dependent. Through calibration, the acoustic reflectance of acid-etched dentin was found to have complex and non-monotonic frequency dependence. These data suggest that acid-etching of dentin results in a near-surface graded layer of varying thickness and property gradations. The measurement methodology described in this paper can be applied to systematically characterize mechanical properties of heterogeneous soft layers and interfaces in biological materials.
The development of ultrasound-based elasticity imaging methods has been the focus of intense research activity since the mid-1990s. In characterizing the mechanical properties of soft tissues, these techniques image an entirely new subset of tissue properties that cannot be derived with conventional ultrasound techniques. Clinically, tissue elasticity is known to be associated with pathological condition and with the ability to image these features in vivo, elasticity imaging methods may prove to be invaluable tools for the diagnosis and/or monitoring of disease. This review focuses on ultrasound-based elasticity imaging methods that generate an acoustic radiation force to induce tissue displacements. These methods can be performed non-invasively during routine exams to provide either qualitative or quantitative metrics of tissue elasticity. A brief overview of soft tissue mechanics relevant to elasticity imaging is provided, including a derivation of acoustic radiation force, and an overview of the various acoustic radiation force elasticity imaging methods.
Focusing and imaging qualities of an ultrasound imaging system that uses aberration correction were experimentally investigated as functions of the number of parallel channels. Front-end electronics that consolidate signals from multiple physical elements can be used to lower hardware and computational costs by reducing the number of parallel channels. However, the signals from sparse arrays of synthetic elements yield poorer aberration estimates. In this study, aberration estimates derived from synthetic arrays of varying element sizes are evaluated by comparing compensated receive focuses, compensated transmit focuses, and compensated b-scan images of a point target and a cyst phantom. An array of 80 × 80 physical elements with a pitch of 0.6 × 0.6 mm was used for all of the experiments and the aberration was produced by a phantom selected to mimic propagation through abdominal wall. The results show that aberration correction derived from synthetic arrays with pitches that have a diagonal length smaller than 70% of the correlation length of the aberration yield focuses and images of approximately the same quality. This connection between correlation length of the aberration and synthetic element size provides a guideline for determining the number of parallel channels that are required when designing imaging systems that employ aberration correction.
A resolution integral (RI) method based on anechoic-pipe, tissue-mimicking phantoms was used to compare the detection capabilities of high-frequency imaging systems based on a single-element transducer, a state-of-the-art, 256-element linear array or a 5-element annular array. All transducers had a central frequency of 40 MHz with similar conventionally measured axial and lateral resolutions (about 50 and 85 μm, respectively). Using the RI metric, the annular array achieved the highest performance (RI = 60), followed by the linear array (47) and the single-element transducer (24). Results showed that the RI metric could be used to efficiently quantify the effective transducer performance and compare the image quality of different systems.