In vivo application of short-lag spatial coherence and harmonic spatial coherence imaging in fetal ultrasound.
Fetal scanning is one of the most common applications of ultrasound imaging and serves as a source of vital information about maternal and fetal health. Visualization of clinically relevant structures, however, can be severely compromised in difficult-to-image patients due to poor resolution and the presence of high levels of acoustical noise or clutter. We have developed novel coherence-based beamforming methods called Short-Lag Spatial Coherence (SLSC) imaging and Harmonic Spatial Coherence imaging (HSCI), and applied them to suppress the effects of clutter in fetal imaging. This method is used to create images of the spatial coherence of the backscattered ultrasound as opposed to images of echo magnitude. We present the results of a patient study to assess the benefits of coherence-based beamforming in the context of first trimester fetal exams. Matched fundamental B-mode, SLSC, harmonic B-mode, and HSCI images were generated using raw radio frequency data collected on 11 volunteers in the first trimester of pregnancy. The images were compared for qualitative differences in image texture and target conspicuity as well as using quantitative imaging metrics such as signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and contrast. SLSC and HSCI showed statistically significant improvements across all imaging metrics compared with B-mode and harmonic B-mode, respectively. These improvements were greatest for poor quality B-mode images where contrast of anechoic targets was improved from 15 dB in fundamental B-mode to 27 dB in SLSC and 17 dB in harmonic B-mode to 30 dB in HSCI. CNR improved from 1.4 to 2.5 in the fundamental images and 1.4 to 3.1 in the harmonic case. These results exhibit the potential of coherence-based beamforming to improve image quality and target detectability, especially in high noise environments.
Kakkad, V; Dahl, J; Ellestad, S; Trahey, G
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