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A novel approach to the 2-D blind deconvolution problem in medical ultrasound

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2 Author(s)
Michailovich, O.V. ; Dept. of Bio-Med. Eng., Technion - Israel Inst. of Technol., Haifa, Israel ; Adam, D.

The finite frequency bandwidth of ultrasound transducers and the nonnegligible width of transmitted acoustic beams are the most significant factors that limit the resolution of medical ultrasound imaging. Consequently, in order to recover diagnostically important image details, obscured due to the resolution limitations, an image restoration procedure should be applied. The present study addresses the problem of ultrasound image restoration by means of the blind-deconvolution techniques. Given an acquired ultrasound image, algorithms of this kind perform either concurrent or successive estimation of the point-spread function (PSF) of the imaging system and the original image. A blind-deconvolution algorithm is proposed, in which the PSF is recovered as a preliminary stage of the restoration problem. As the accuracy of this estimation affects all the following stages of the image restoration, it is considered as the most fundamental and important problem. The contribution of the present study is twofold. First, it introduces a novel approach to the problem of estimating the PSF, which is based on a generalization of several fundamental concepts of the homomorphic deconvolution. It is shown that a useful estimate of the spectrum of the PSF can be obtained by applying a proper smoothing operator to both log-magnitude and phase of the spectra of acquired radio-frequency (RF) images. It is demonstrated that the proposed approach performs considerably better than the existing homomorphic (cepstrum-based) deconvolution methods. Second, the study shows that given a reliable estimate of the PSF, it is possible to deconvolve it out of the RF-image and obtain an estimate of the true tissue reflectivity function, which is relatively independent of the properties of the imaging system. The deconvolution was performed using the maximum a-posteriori (MAP) estimation framework for a number of statistical priors assumed for the reflectivity function. It is shown in a series of in vi- - vo experiments that reconstructions based on the priors, which tend to emphasize the "sparseness" of the tissue structure, result in solutions of higher resolution and contrast.

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Medical Imaging, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 1 )