Skip to Main Content
Ultrasonic backscatter has recently been used extensively to investigate erythrocyte aggregation, which is an inherent hematological phenomenon in the blood circulation system. The size of rouleaux can be estimated by measuring certain parameters of signals backscattered from flowing blood. However, most measurements of backscatter from blood use a constant value for the attenuation coefficient to compensate for the loss of ultrasound energy. This correction may be inaccurate because the attenuation varies with the blood properties, which prompted us to explore the effects of hemodynamic properties on ultrasonic attenuation and backscatter to better understand the blood rheological behaviors. Experiments were performed on porcine whole blood in a Couette flow apparatus. Ultrasonic attenuation and the backscattering coefficient of blood were measured at various frequencies (from 10 to 50 MHz), hematocrits (from 0 to 60%), and shear rates (from 0.1 to 200 s-1). The results indicated that the attenuation and backscattering coefficients of blood are highly variable, depending in a complex manner on shear rate, hematocrit, and the measurement ultrasound frequency. The attenuation of blood decreased rapidly with increasing shear rates, eventually reaching a steady state asymptotically, and increased linearly with the hematocrit from 10 to 50 MHz at various shear rates, and also with the ultrasound frequency. The effect of erythrocyte aggregation means that the change in ultrasonic attenuation in blood with shear rate may be attributed to the absorption mechanism, which is enhanced by the increased blood viscosity at lower shear rates. Compensating the measured backscattering coefficients of blood for the shear-rate-dependent attenuation coefficient increased the accuracy of erythrocyte aggregation assessments. Together, the experimental results suggest that the shear-rate-dependent attenuation coefficient should be considered in future developments of ultrason- c technologies for characterizing blood rheology when the ultrasound frequency is higher than 20 MHz.