Analysis of contrast in images generated with transient acoustic radiation force.
Several mechanical imaging methods are under investigation that use focused ultrasound (US) as a source of mechanical excitation. Images are then generated of the tissue response to this localized excitation. One such method, acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) imaging, utilizes a single US transducer on a commercial US system to transmit brief, high-energy, focused acoustic pulses to generate radiation force in tissue and correlation-based US methods to detect the resulting tissue displacements. Local displacements reflect relative mechanical properties of tissue. The resolution of these images is comparable with that of conventional B-mode imaging. The response of tissue to focused radiation force excitation is complex and depends upon tissue geometry, forcing function geometry (i.e., region of excitation, or ROE) and tissue mechanical and acoustic properties. Finite element method (FEM) simulations using an experimentally validated model and phantom experiments have been performed using varying systems, system configurations and tissue-mimicking phantoms to determine their impact on image quality. Image quality is assessed by lesion contrast. Due to the dynamic nature of ARFI excitation, lesion contrast is temporally-dependent. Contrast of spherical inclusions is highest immediately after force cessation, decreases with time postforce and then reverses, due to shear wave interaction with internal boundaries, differences in shear modulus between lesions and background and inertial effects. In images generated immediately after force cessation, contrast does not vary with applied force, increases with lesion stiffness and increases as the ROE size decreases relative to the size of the structure being imaged. These studies indicate that improved contrast in radiation force-generated images will be achieved as ROE size decreases; however, frame rate and thermal considerations present trade-offs with small ROE size.
Nightingale, K; Palmeri, M; Trahey, G
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