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Tissue mechanical properties such as elasticity are linked to tissue pathology state. Several groups have proposed shear wave propagation speed to quantify tissue mechanical properties. It is well known that biological tissues are viscoelastic materials; therefore, velocity dispersion resulting from material viscoelasticity is expected. A method called shearwave dispersion ultrasound vibrometry (SDUV) can be used to quantify tissue viscoelasticity by measuring dispersion of shear wave propagation speed. However, there is not a gold standard method for validation. In this study, we present an independent validation method of shear elastic modulus estimation by SDUV in three gelatin phantoms of differing stiffness. In addition, the indentation measurements are compared to estimates of elasticity derived from shear wave group velocities. The shear elastic moduli from indentation were 1.16, 3.40, and 5.6 kPa for a 7%, 10%, and 15% gelatin phantom, respectively. SDUV measurements were 1.61, 3.57, and 5.37 kPa for the gelatin phantoms, respectively. Shear elastic moduli derived from shear wave group velocities were 1.78, 5.2, and 7.18 kPa for the gelatin phantoms, respectively. The shear elastic modulus estimated from the SDUV, matched the elastic modulus measured by indentation. On the other hand, shear elastic modulus estimated by group velocity did not agree with indentation test estimations. These results suggest that shear elastic modulus estimation by group velocity will be bias when the medium being investigated is dispersive. Therefore, a rheological model should be used in order to estimate mechanical properties of viscoelastic materials.
Date of Publication: June 2011