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Ultrafast 3-D Super Resolution Ultrasound using Row-Column Array specific Coherence-based Beamforming and Rolling Acoustic Sub-aperture Processing: In Vitro, In Vivo and Clinical Study

Joseph Hansen-ShearerJipeng YanMarcelo Lerendegui ...+7 Meng-Xing Tang
Nov 2023
The row-column addressed array is an emerging probe for ultrafast 3-D ultrasound imaging. It achieves this with far fewer independent electronic channels and a wider field of view than traditional 2-D matrix arrays, of the same channel count, making it a good candidate for clinical translation. However, the image quality of row-column arrays is generally poor, particularly when investigating tissue. Ultrasound localisation microscopy allows for the production of super-resolution images even when the initial image resolution is not high. Unfortunately, the row-column probe can suffer from imaging artefacts that can degrade the quality of super-resolution images as `secondary' lobes from bright microbubbles can be mistaken as microbubble events, particularly when operated using plane wave imaging. These false events move through the image in a physiologically realistic way so can be challenging to remove via tracking, leading to the production of 'false vessels'. Here, a new type of rolling window image reconstruction procedure was developed, which integrated a row-column array-specific coherence-based beamforming technique with acoustic sub-aperture processing for the purposes of reducing `secondary' lobe artefacts, noise and increasing the effective frame rate. Using an {\it{in vitro}} cross tube, it was found that the procedure reduced the percentage of `false' locations from $\sim$26\% to $\sim$15\% compared to traditional orthogonal plane wave compounding. Additionally, it was found that the noise could be reduced by $\sim$7 dB and that the effective frame rate could be increased to over 4000 fps. Subsequently, {\it{in vivo}} ultrasound localisation microscopy was used to produce images non-invasively of a rabbit kidney and a human thyroid.
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