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Emerging sonography techniques often require increasing the number of transducer elements involved in the imaging process. Consequently, larger amounts of data must be acquired and processed. The significant growth in the amounts of data affects both machinery size and power consumption. Within the classical sampling framework, state of the art systems reduce processing rates by exploiting the bandpass bandwidth of the detected signals. It has been recently shown, that a much more significant sample-rate reduction may be obtained, by treating ultrasound signals within the Finite Rate of Innovation framework. These ideas follow the spirit of Xampling, which combines classic methods from sampling theory with recent developments in Compressed Sensing. Applying such low-rate sampling schemes to individual transducer elements, which detect energy reflected from biological tissues, is limited by the noisy nature of the signals. This often results in erroneous parameter extraction, bringing forward the need to enhance the SNR of the low-rate samples. In our work, we achieve SNR enhancement, by beamforming the sub-Nyquist samples obtained from multiple elements. We refer to this process as “compressed beamforming”. Applying it to cardiac ultrasound data, we successfully image macroscopic perturbations, while achieving a nearly eightfold reduction in sample-rate, compared to standard techniques.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2012