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A Nonlinear Beamformer Based on p-th Root Compression—Application to Plane Wave Ultrasound Imaging

Ultrafast medical ultrasound imaging is necessary for 3D and 4D ultrasound imaging, and it can also achieve high temporal resolution (thousands of frames per second) for monitoring of transient biological phenomena. However, reaching such frame rates involves reduction of image quality compared with that obtained with conventional ultrasound imaging, since the latter requires each image line to be reconstructed separately with a thin ultrasonic focused beam. There are many techniques to simultaneously acquire several image lines, although at the expense of resolution and contrast, due to interference from echoes from the whole medium. In this paper, a nonlinear beamformer is applied to plane wave imaging to improve resolution and contrast of ultrasound images. The method consists of the introduction of nonlinear operations in the conventional delay-and-sum (DAS) beamforming algorithm. To recover the value of each pixel, the raw radiofrequency signals are first dynamically focused and summed on the plane wave dimension. Then, their amplitudes are compressed using the signed pth root. After summing on the element dimension, the signed p-power is applied to restore the original dimensionality in volts. Finally, a band-pass filter is used to remove artificial harmonics introduced by these nonlinear operations. The proposed method is referred to as p-DAS, and it has been tested here on numerical and experimental data from the open access platform of the Plane wave Imaging Challenge in Medical UltraSound (PICMUS). This study demonstrates that p-DAS achieves better resolution and artifact rejection than the conventional DAS (for p=2 with eleven plane wave imaging on experimental phantoms, the lateral resolution is improved by 21% , and contrast ratio (CR) by 59% ). However, like many coherence-based beamformers, it tends to distort the conventional speckle structure (contrast-to-noise-ratio (CNR) decreased by 45% ). It is demonstrated that p-DAS, for p=2 , is very similar