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A compound probability density function (pdf) is presented to describe the envelope of the backscattered echo from tissue. This pdf allows local and global variation in scattering cross sections in tissue. The ultrasonic backscattering cross sections are assumed to be gamma distributed. The gamma distribution also is used to model the randomness in the average cross sections. This gamma-gamma model results in the compound scattering pdf for the envelope. The relationship of this compound pdf to the Rayleigh, K, and Nakagami distributions is explored through an analysis of the signal-to-noise ratio of the envelopes and random number simulations. The three parameter compound pdf appears to be flexible enough to represent envelope statistics giving rise to Rayleigh, K, and Nakagami distributions.