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Parametric imaging for characterizing focal liver lesions in contrast-enhanced ultrasound

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9 Author(s)
Rognin, N.G. ; Bracco Suisse SA, Geneva, Switzerland ; Arditi, M. ; Mercier, L. ; Frinking, P.J.A.
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The differentiation between benign and malignant focal liver lesions plays an important role in diagnosis of liver disease and therapeutic planning of local or general disease. This differentiation, based on characterization, relies on the observation of the dynamic vascular patterns (DVP) of lesions with respect to adjacent parenchyma, and may be assessed during contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging after a bolus injection. For instance, hemangiomas (i.e., benign lesions) exhibit hyper-enhanced signatures over time, whereas metastases (i.e., malignant lesions) frequently present hyper-enhanced foci during the arterial phase and always become hypo-enhanced afterwards. The objective of this work was to develop a new parametric imaging technique, aimed at mapping the DVP signatures into a single image called a DVP parametric image, conceived as a diagnostic aid tool for characterizing lesion types. The methodology consisted in processing a time sequence of images (DICOM video data) using four consecutive steps: (1) pre-processing combining image motion correction and linearization to derive an echo-power signal, in each pixel, proportional to local contrast agent concentration over time; (2) signal modeling, by means of a curve-fitting optimization, to compute a difference signal in each pixel, as the subtraction of adjacent parenchyma kinetic from the echo-power signal; (3) classification of difference signals; and (4) parametric image rendering to represent classified pixels as a support for diagnosis. DVP parametric imaging was the object of a clinical assessment on a total of 146 lesions, imaged using different medical ultrasound systems. The resulting sensitivity and specificity were 97% and 91%, respectively, which compare favorably with scores of 81 to 95% and 80 to 95% reported in medical literature for sensitivity and specificity, respectively.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:57 ,  Issue: 11 )