Coherent flow power Doppler (CFPD): flow detection using spatial coherence beamforming.
Power Doppler imaging is a widely used method of flow detection for tissue perfusion monitoring, inflammatory hyperemia detection, deep vein thrombosis diagnosis, and other clinical applications. However, thermal noise and clutter limit its sensitivity and ability to detect slow flow. In addition, large ensembles are required to obtain sufficient sensitivity, which limits frame rate and yields flash artifacts during moderate tissue motion. We propose an alternative method of flow detection using the spatial coherence of backscattered ultrasound echoes. The method enhances slow flow detection and frame rate, while maintaining or improving the signal quality of conventional power Doppler techniques. The feasibility of this method is demonstrated with simulations, flow-phantom experiments, and an in vivo human thyroid study. In comparison with conventional power Doppler imaging, the proposed method can produce Doppler images with 15- to 30-dB SNR improvement. Therefore, the method is able to detect flow with velocities approximately 50% lower than conventional power Doppler, or improve the frame rate by a factor of 3 with comparable image quality. The results show promise for clinical applications of the method.
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