Experimental studies of the thermal effects associated with radiation force imaging of soft tissue.
Many groups are studying acoustic radiation force-based imaging modalities to determine the mechanical properties of tissue. Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) imaging is one of these modalities that uses standard diagnostic ultrasound scanners to generate localized, impulsive, acoustic radiation force in tissue. This radiation force generates tissue displacements that are tracked using conventional correlation-based ultrasound methods. The dynamic response of tissue to this impulsive radiation force provides information about the mechanical properties of the tissue. The generation of micron-scale displacements using acoustic radiation force in tissue requires the use of high-intensity acoustic beams, and the soft tissue heating associated with these high-intensity beams must be evaluated to ensure safety when performing ARFI imaging in vivo. Experimental studies using thermocouples have validated Finite Element Method (FEM) models that simulate the heating of soft tissue during ARFI imaging. Spatial maps of heating measured with the thermocouples are in good agreement with FEM model predictions, with cooling time constants measured and modeled to be on the order of several seconds. Transducer heating during ARFI imaging has been measured to be less than 1 degrees C for current clinical implementations. These validated FEM models can now be used to simulate soft tissue heating associated with different transducers, beam spacing, focal configurations and thermal material properties. These experiments confirm that ARFI imaging of soft tissue is safe, although thermal response must be monitored when developing ARFI beam sequences for specific tissue types and organsystems.
Palmeri, ML; Frinkley, KD; Nightingale, KR
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