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Spatial resolution enhancement of ultrasound images using neural networks

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3 Author(s)
Carotenuto, R. ; Dipt. di Ingegneria Elettronica, Universita degli Studi Roma Tre, Rome, Italy ; Sabbi, G. ; Pappalardo, M.

Spatial resolution in modern ultrasound imaging systems is limited by the high cost of large aperture transducer arrays, which require a large number of transducer elements and electronic channels. A new technique to enhance the spatial resolution of pulse-echo imaging systems is presented. The method attempts to build an image that could be obtained with a transducer array aperture larger than that physically available. We consider two images of the same object obtained with two different apertures, the full aperture and a subaperture, of the same transducer. A suitable artificial neural network (ANN) is trained to reproduce the relationship between the image obtained with the transducer full aperture and the image obtained with a subaperture. The inputs of the neural network are portions of the image obtained with the subaperture (low resolution image), and the target outputs are the corresponding portions of the image produced by the full aperture (high resolution image). After the network is trained, it can produce images with almost the same resolution of the full aperture transducer, but using a reduced number of real transducer elements. All computations are carried out on envelope-detected decimated images; for this reason, the computational cost is low and the method is suitable for real-time applications. The proposed method was applied to experimental data obtained with the ultrasound synthetic aperture focusing technique (SAFT), giving quite promising results. Realtime implementation on a modern, full-digital echographic system is currently being developed.

Published in:

Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:49 ,  Issue: 8 )