Phase aberration correction in medical ultrasound using speckle brightness as a quality factor.
Medical ultrasonic images are degraded by tissues with inhomogeneous acoustic velocities. The resulting phase aberration raises the off-peak response of the imaging system's point spread function (PSF), decreasing dynamic range. In extreme cases, multiple images of a single target are displayed. Phase aberration may become a limiting factor to image quality as ultrasonic frequency and aperture size are increased in order to improve spatial resolution. A method is proposed to correct for unknown phase aberration, which uses speckle brightness as a quality factor. The phase delays of a phased array transducer are modified, element by element, to maximize mean speckle brightness in a region of interest. The technique proposed is analogous to the correction technique used by Muller and Buffington [J. Opt. Soc. Am. 64 (9), 1200-1209 (1974)] to adaptively focus incoherent optical telescopes. The method is demonstrated using a computer model with several different simulated aberration profiles. With this model, mean speckle brightness is calculated using the two-dimensional PSF. Experiments have also been conducted in which speckle brightness is shown to increase as the phase delays of an ultrasonic scanner are modified in order to compensate for a rippled aberrating layer made of silicone rubber. The characteristics of the proposed method, and the possibility of employing it clinically to correct for unknown inhomogeneities in acoustic velocity, are discussed.
Nock, L; Trahey, GE; Smith, SW
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