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A high-frequency ultrasound imaging system combining limited-angle spatial compounding and model-based synthetic aperture focusing

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3 Author(s)
Opretzka, J. ; High Freq. Eng. Res. Group, Ruhr-Univ. Bochum, Bochum, Germany ; Vogt, M. ; Ermert, Helmut

High-frequency ultrasound (HFUS) imaging systems are routinely used for medical diagnostics (skin, eyes) and for medical research (small animal imaging). Although systems with array transducers are already commercially available, imaging systems with single-element transducers are still of interest and available as well, because this type of transducer is less complex, less expensive, and technically mature. Nevertheless, drawbacks exist, for example, the need for mechanical scanning units and the limited depth of field. In this paper, we present a high-frequency (20 MHz) ultrasound imaging system equipped with a spherically focused transducer. Limited-angle spatial compounding is utilized to improve the image contrast, to suppress speckle and noise, and to reduce imaging artifacts. To overcome the limitation in depth of field, the system uses a novel synthetic aperture focusing technique based on the correlation of the recorded echo signals with the simulated point spread function of the imaging system. This method results in lower side lobe levels and greater noise reduction compared with delay-and-sum focusing, which is demonstrated by wire phantom measurements. When used in combination with limited-angle spatial compounding, as presented in this paper, the resulting image quality is superior to conventional single-element HFUS imaging systems and to array systems. Examples of measurements on tissue phantoms and small animals (ex vivo) are presented and discussed in detail.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:58 ,  Issue: 7 )