Sources of image degradation in fundamental and harmonic ultrasound imaging using nonlinear, full-wave simulations.
A full-wave equation that describes nonlinear propagation in a heterogeneous attenuating medium is solved numerically with finite differences in the time domain (FDTD). This numerical method is used to simulate propagation of a diagnostic ultrasound pulse through a measured representation of the human abdomen with heterogeneities in speed of sound, attenuation, density, and nonlinearity. Conventional delay-andsum beamforming is used to generate point spread functions (PSF) that display the effects of these heterogeneities. For the particular imaging configuration that is modeled, these PSFs reveal that the primary source of degradation in fundamental imaging is reverberation from near-field structures. Reverberation clutter in the harmonic PSF is 26 dB higher than the fundamental PSF. An artificial medium with uniform velocity but unchanged impedance characteristics indicates that for the fundamental PSF, the primary source of degradation is phase aberration. An ultrasound image is created in silico using the same physical and algorithmic process used in an ultrasound scanner: a series of pulses are transmitted through heterogeneous scattering tissue and the received echoes are used in a delay-and-sum beamforming algorithm to generate images. These beamformed images are compared with images obtained from convolution of the PSF with a scatterer field to demonstrate that a very large portion of the PSF must be used to accurately represent the clutter observed in conventional imaging.
Pinton, GF; Trahey, GE; Dahl, JJ
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