The Maltese cross processor: speckle reduction for circular transducers.
A new online signal processing technique is described to reduce speckle noise in ultrasound images. In the imaging system, a focused piston transducer is divided into thirty-two sectors. In the receive mode, parallel signal processing arranges the sectors into eight maltese crosses. The rf signals of the perpendicular arms of each cross are multiplied in a phase sensitive process. The orthogonal receive mode multiplication is designed to reduce side lobes resulting from the sector shapes while maintaining lateral resolution through the use of the full aperture diameter. The signals from the crosses are then combined via postdetection summation. Six of the eight crosses perform successfully. The six maltese crosses show decorrelated signals equivalent to four independent samples of the speckle noise which decreases noise contrast by a factor of two with no measureable loss of spatial resolution. Post summation compression is included to retain the conventional signal dynamic range. Parallel signal processing maintains the normal image line rate. Images of tissue-mimicking phantoms including speckle targets show improved detectability of simulated lesions.
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