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The ultrasonic pulse-echo backscattered amplitude integral (BAI)-mode imaging technique has been developed to inspect the seal integrity of hermetically sealed, flexible food packages. With a focused 17.3-MHz transducer acquiring radio frequency (RF) echo data in a static rectilinear stop-and-go pattern, this technique was able to reliably detect channel defects as small as 38 /spl mu/m in diameter and occasionally detect 6-/spl mu/m-diameter channels. This contribution presents our experimental spatial sampling study of the BAI-mode imaging technique with a continuous zigzag scanning protocol that simulates a real-time production line inspection method in continuous motion. Two transducers (f/2 17.3 MHz and f/3 20.3 MHz) were used to acquire RF echo data in a zigzag raster pattern from plastic film samples bearing rectilinear point reflector arrays of varying grid spacings. The average BAI-value difference (/spl Delta/BAI) between defective and intact regions and the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were used to assess image quality as a function of three spatial sampling variables: transducer spatial scanning step size, array sample grid spacing, and transducer -6-dB pulse-echo focal beam spot size. For a given grid size, the /spl Delta/BAI and CNR degraded as scanning step size in each spatial dimension increased. There is an engineering trade-off between the BAI-mode image quality and the transducer spatial sampling. The optimal spatial sampling step size has been identified to be between one and two times the -6-dB pulse-echo focal beam lateral diameter.