The impact of sound speed errors on medical ultrasound imaging.
The results of a quantitative study of the impact of sound speed errors on the spatial resolution and amplitude sensitivity of a commercial medical ultrasound scanner are presented in the context of their clinical significance. The beamforming parameters of the scanner were manipulated to produce sound speed errors ranging over +/-8% while imaging a wire target and an attenuating, speckle-generating phantom. For the wire target, these errors produced increases in lateral beam width of up to 320% and reductions in peak echo amplitude of up to 10.5 dB. In the speckle-generating phantom, these errors produced increases in speckle intensity correlation cell area of up to 92% and reductions in mean speckle brightness of up to 5.6 dB. These results are applied in statistical analyses of two detection tasks of clinical relevance. The first is of low contrast lesion detectability, predicting the changes in the correct decision probability as a function of lesion size, contrast, and sound speed error. The second is of point target detectability, predicting the changes in the correct decision probability as function of point target reflectivity and sound speed error. Representative results of these analyses are presented and their implications for clinical imaging are discussed. In general, sound speed errors have a more significant impact on point target detectability over lesion detectability by these analyses, producing up to a 22% reduction in correct decisions for a typical error.
Anderson, ME; McKeag, MS; Trahey, GE
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