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A method for flow estimation using synthetic aperture imaging and focusing along the flow direction is presented. The method can find the correct velocity magnitude For any flow angle, and full color flow images can be measured using only 32 to 128 pulse emissions. The approach uses spherical wave emissions with a number of defocused elements and a linear frequency-modulated pulse (chirp) to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. The received signals are dynamically focused along the flow direction and these signals are used in a cross-correlation estimator for finding the velocity magnitude. The flow angle is manually determined from the B-mode image. The approach can be used for both tissue and blood velocity determination. The approach was investigated using both simulations and a flow system with a laminar flow. The flow profile was measured with a commercial 7.5 MHz linear array transducer. A plastic tube with an internal diameter of 17 mm was used with an EcoWatt 1 pump generating a laminar, stationary flow. The velocity profile was measured for flow angles of 90 and 60 degrees. The RASMUS research scanner was used for acquiring radio frequency (RF) data from 128 elements of the array, using 8 emissions with 11 elements in each emission. A 20-/spl mu/s chirp was used during emission. The RF data were subsequently beamformed off-line and stationary echo canceling was performed. The 60-degree flow with a peak velocity of 0.15 m/s was determined using 16 groups of 8 emissions, and the relative standard deviation was 0.36% (0.65 mm/s). Using the same setup for purely transverse flow gave a standard deviation of 1.2% (2.1 mm/s). Variation of the different parameters revealed the sensitivity to number of lines, angle deviations, length of correlation interval, and sampling interval. An in vivo image of the carotid artery and jugular vein of a healthy 29-year-old volunteer was acquired. A full color flow image using only 128 emissions could be made with a high-velocity p- - recision.