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Stroke may occur when an atherosclerotic plaque ruptures in the carotid artery. Noninvasive vascular elastography (NIVE) visualizes the strain distribution within the carotid artery, which is related to its mechanical properties that govern plaque rupture. Strain elastograms obtained from the transverse plane of the carotid artery are difficult to interpret, because strain is estimated in Cartesian coordinates. Sparsearray (SA) elastography overcomes this problem by transforming shear and normal strain to polar coordinates. However, the SA's transmit power may be too weak to produce useful elastograms in the clinical setting. Consequently, we are exploring other imaging methods to solve this potential problem. This study evaluated the quality of elastograms produced with SA imaging, plane-wave (PW) imaging, and compounded-plane-wave (CPW) imaging. We performed studies on simulated and physical vessel phantoms, and the carotid artery of a healthy volunteer. All echo imaging was performed with a linear transducer array that contained 128 elements, operating at 5 MHz. In SA imaging, 7 elements were fired during transmission, but all 128 elements were active during reception. In PW imaging, all 128 elements were active during both transmission and reception. We created CPW images by steering the acoustic beam within the range of -15° to 15° in increments of 5°. SA radial and circumferential strain elastograms were comparable to those produced using PW and CPW imaging. Additionally, side-lobe levels incurred during SA imaging were 20 dB lower than those produced during PW imaging, and 10 dB lower than those computed using CPW imaging. Overall, SA imaging performs well in vivo; therefore, we plan to improve the technique and perform preclinical studies.
Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:60 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: February 2013