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It has recently been demonstrated that superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles can be used as magnetomotive ultrasound contrast agents. A time-varying external magnetic field acts to move the particles and, thus, the nanoparticle-laden tissue. However, the difficulty of distinguishing this magnetomotive motion from undesired movement induced in regions without nanoparticles or other motion artifacts has not been well reported. Using a high-frequency linear-array system, we found that displacements outside nanoparticle-laden regions can be similar in magnitude to those in regions containing nanoparticles. We also found that the displacement outside the nanoparticle regions had a phase shift of approximately π radians relative to that in the nanoparticle regions. To suppress signals arising from undesirable movements, we developed an algorithm based on quadrature detection and phase gating at the precise frequency of nanoparticle displacement. Thus, clutter at other frequencies can be filtered out, and the processed signal can be color-coded and superimposed on the B-mode image. The median signal-to-clutter ratio improvement using the proposed algorithm was 36 dB compared with simply summing the movement energy at all frequencies. This clutter rejection is a crucial step to move magnetomotive ultrasound imaging of nanoparticles toward in vivo investigations.
Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:60 , Issue: 3 )
Date of Publication: March 2013