Spatial coherence in human tissue: implications for imaging and measurement.
The spatial coherence properties of the signal backscattered by human tissue and measured by an ultrasound transducer array are investigated. Fourier acoustics are used to describe the propagation of ultrasound through a model of tissue that includes reverberation and random scattering in the imaging plane. The theoretical development describes how the near-field tissue layer, transducer aperture properties, and reflectivity function at the focus reduce the spatial coherence of the imaging wave measured at the transducer surface. Simulations are used to propagate the acoustic field through a histologically characterized sample of the human abdomen and to validate the theoretical predictions. In vivo measurements performed with a diagnostic ultrasound scanner demonstrate that simulations and theory closely match the measured spatial coherence characteristics in the human body across the transducer array's entire spatial extent. The theoretical framework and simulations are then used to describe the physics of spatial coherence imaging, a type of ultrasound imaging that measures coherence properties instead of echo brightness. The same echo data from an F/2 transducer was used to generate B-mode and short lag spatial coherence images. For an anechoic lesion at the focus, the contrast-to-noise ratio is 1.21 for conventional B-mode imaging and 1.95 for spatial coherence imaging. It is shown that the contrast in spatial coherence imaging depends on the properties of the near-field tissue layer and the backscattering function in the focal plane.
Pinton, G; Trahey, G; Dahl, J
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