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Characterization of the spatial resolution of different high-frequency imaging systems using a novel anechoic-sphere phantom

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4 Author(s)
Filoux, E. ; Riverside Res., F.L. Lizzi Center for Biomed. Eng., New York, NY, USA ; Mamou, J. ; Aristizabal, O. ; Ketterling, J.A.

The spatial resolution of high-frequency ultrasound (HFU, >;20 MHz) imaging systems is usually determined using wires perpendicular to the beam. Recently, two tissue-mimicking phantoms (TMPs) were developed to estimate three-dimensional (3-D) resolution. Each TMP consists of nine 1-cm-wide slabs of tissue-mimicking material containing randomly distributed anechoic spheres. All anechoic spheres in one slab have the same dimensions, and their diameter is increased from 0.1 mm in the first slab to 1.09 mm in the last. The scattering background for one set of slabs was fabricated using 3.5-μm glass beads; the second set used 6.4-μm glass beads. The ability of a HFU system to detect these spheres against a speckle background provides a realistic estimation of its 3-D spatial resolution. In the present study, these TMPs were used with HFU systems using single-element transducers, linear arrays, and annular arrays. The TMPs were immersed in water and each slab was scanned using two commercial imaging systems and a custom HFU system based on a 5-element annular array. The annular array had a nominal center frequency of 40 MHz, a focal length of 12 mm, and a total aperture of 6 mm. A synthetic-focusing algorithm was used to form images with an increased depth-of-field. The penetration depth was increased by using a linear-chirp signal spanning 15 to 65 MHz over 4 μs. Results obtained with the custom system were compared with those of the commercial systems (40-MHz probes) in terms of sphere detection, i.e., 3-D spatial resolution, and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR). Resulting B-mode images indicated that only the linear-array transducer failed to clearly resolve the 0.2-mm spheres, which showed that the 3-D spatial resolution of the single-element and annulararray transducers was superior to that of the linear array. The single-element transducer could only detect these spheres over a narrow 1.5 mm depth-of-field, whereas the annular array was able- - to detect them to depths of at least 7 mm. For any size of the anechoic spheres, the annular array excited by a chirp-coded signal provided images of the highest contrast, with a maximum CNR of 1.8 at the focus, compared with 1.3 when using impulse excitation and 1.6 with the single-element transducer and linear array. This imaging configuration also provided CNRs above 1.2 over a wide depth range of 8 mm, whereas CNRs would quickly drop below 1 outside the focal zone of the other configurations.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:58 ,  Issue: 5 )