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A combination of radiation force and ultrafast ultra-sound imaging is used to both generate and track the propagation of a shear wave in the brain whose local speed is directly related to stiffness, characterized by the dynamic shear modulus G*. When performed on trepanated rats, this approach called shear wave imaging (SWI) provides 3-D brain elasticity maps reaching a spatial resolution of 0.7 mm × 1 mm × 0.4 mm with a good reproducibility (<;13%). The dynamic shear modulus of brain tissues exhibits values in the 2-25 kPa range with a mean value of 12 kPa and is quantified for different anatomical regions. The anisotropy of the shear wave propagation is studied and the first in vivo anisotropy map of brain elasticity is provided. The propagation is found to be isotropic in three gray matter regions but highly anisotropic in two white matter regions. The good temporal resolution (~10 ms per acquisition) of SWI also allows a dynamic estimation of brain elasticity to within a single cardiac cycle, showing that brain pulsatility does not transiently modify local elasticity. SWI proves its potential for the study of pathological modifications of brain elasticity both in small animal models and in clinical intra-operative imaging.
Date of Publication: March 2011