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The effects of aberration, time-shift compensation, and spatial compounding on the discrimination of positive-contrast lesions in ultrasound b-scan images are investigated using a two-dimensional (2-D) array system and tissue-mimicking phantoms. Images were acquired within an 8.8/spl times/12-mm/sup 2/ field of view centered on one of four statistically similar 4-mm diameter spherical lesions. Each lesion was imaged in four planes offset by successive 45/spl deg/ rotations about the central scan line. Images of the lesions were acquired using conventional geometric focusing through a water path, geometric focusing through a 35-mm thick distributed aberration phantom, and time-shift compensated transmit and receive focusing through the aberration phantom. The views of each lesion were averaged to form sets of water path, aberrated, and time-shift compensated 4:1 compound images and 16:1 compound images. The contrast ratio and detectability index of each image were computed to assess lesion differentiation. In the presence of aberration representative of breast or abdominal wall tissue, time-shift compensation provided statistically significant improvements of contrast ratio but did not consistently affect the detectability index, and spatial compounding significantly increased the detectability index but did not alter the contrast ratio. Time-shift compensation and spatial compounding thus provide complementary benefits to lesion detection.