Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) Imaging: a Review.
Acoustic radiation force based elasticity imaging methods are under investigation by many groups. These methods differ from traditional ultrasonic elasticity imaging methods in that they do not require compression of the transducer, and are thus expected to be less operator dependent. Methods have been developed that utilize impulsive (i.e. < 1 ms), harmonic (pulsed), and steady state radiation force excitations. The work discussed herein utilizes impulsive methods, for which two imaging approaches have been pursued: 1) monitoring the tissue response within the radiation force region of excitation (ROE) and generating images of relative differences in tissue stiffness (Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) imaging); and 2) monitoring the speed of shear wave propagation away from the ROE to quantify tissue stiffness (Shear Wave Elasticity Imaging (SWEI)). For these methods, a single ultrasound transducer on a commercial ultrasound system can be used to both generate acoustic radiation force in tissue, and to monitor the tissue displacement response. The response of tissue to this transient excitation is complicated and depends upon tissue geometry, radiation force field geometry, and tissue mechanical and acoustic properties. Higher shear wave speeds and smaller displacements are associated with stiffer tissues, and slower shear wave speeds and larger displacements occur with more compliant tissues. ARFI images have spatial resolution comparable to that of B-mode, often with greater contrast, providing matched, adjunctive information. SWEI images provide quantitative information about the tissue stiffness, typically with lower spatial resolution. A review these methods and examples of clinical applications are presented herein.
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