Effect of Transmit Beamforming on Clutter Levels in Transthoracic Echocardiography.
Transmit beamforming has a strong impact on several factors that govern image quality, field-of-view, and frame-rate in ultrasound imaging. For cardiac applications, the visualization of fine structures and the ability to track their motion is equally important. Consequently, beamforming choices for echocardiography aim to optimize these trade-offs. Acoustic clutter can dramatically impact image quality and degrade the diagnostic value of cardiac ultrasound imaging. Clutter levels, however, are closely tied to the choice of beamforming configuration. This study aims to quantify the impact of transmit beamforming on clutter levels under in vivo conditions. The performance of focused as well as plane wave transmit configurations in fundamental and harmonic modes is evaluated under matched conditions. Contrast between the cardiac chambers and the interventricular septum is used as a surrogate for the level of clutter in a given imaging scenario. Under in vivo conditions, contrast was found to improve incrementally across the four beamforming configurations in the following order: fundamental-plane, fundamental-focused, harmonic-plane, and harmonic-focused. Using the fundamental-focused configuration as a reference, the harmonic-plane and harmonic-focused cases showed improvements in median contrast of 2.97 dB and 6.1 dB, respectively, while the fundamental-plane case showed a contrast deterioration of 1.23 dB. Contrast was also found to vary systematically as a function of imaging depth. Median contrast for the right ventricle (shallow chamber) was measured to be 2.96 dB lower than that in the left ventricle (deep chamber).
Kakkad, V; LeFevre, M; Roy Choudhury, K; Kisslo, J; Trahey, GE
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