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Multiresolution imaging in elastography

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3 Author(s)
Varghese, T. ; Dept. of Radiol., Texas Univ. Med. Sch., Houston, TX, USA ; Bilgen, M. ; Ophir, Jonathan

The range of strains that can be imaged by any practical elastographic imaging system is inherently limited, and a performance measure is valuable to evaluate these systems from the signal and noise properties of their output images. Such a measure was previously formulated for systems employing cross-correlation based time-delay estimators through the strain filter. While the strain filter predicts the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR/sub e/) for each tissue strain in the elastogram and provides valuable insights into the nature of image noise, it understated the effects of image resolution (axial resolution, as determined by the cross-correlation window length) on the noise. In this work, the strain filter is modified to study the strain noise at multiple resolutions. The effects of finite window length on signal decorrelation and on the variance of the strain estimator are investigated. Long-duration windows are preferred for improved sensitivity, dynamic range, and SNR/sub e/. However, in this limit the elastogram is degraded due to poor resolution. The results indicate that for nonzero strain, a window length exists at which the variance of strain estimator attains its minima, and consequently the elastographic sensitivity, dynamic range and SNR/sub e/ are strongly affected by the selected window length. Simulation results corroborate the theoretical results, illustrating the presence of a window length where the strain estimation variance is minimized for a given strain value. Multiresolution elastography, where the strain estimate with the highest SNR/sub e/ obtained by processing the pre- and post-compression waveforms at different window lengths is used to generate a composite elastogram and is proposed to improve elastograms. All the objective elastogram parameters (namely: SNR/sub e/, dynamic range, sensitivity and the average elastographic resolution-defined as the cross-correlation window length) are improved with multiresolution elastography when compared t- the traditional method of utilizing a single window length to generate the elastogram. Experimental results using a phantom with a hard inclusion illustrates the improvement in elastogram obtained using multiresolution analysis.

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Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:45 ,  Issue: 1 )