Window-modulated compounding Nakagami imaging for ultrasound tissue characterization

Po Hsiang Tsui*, Hsiang Yang Ma, Zhuhuang Zhou, Ming Chih Ho, Yu Hsin Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ultrasound Nakagami parametric imaging is a useful tool for tissue characterization. Previous literature has suggested using a square with side lengths corresponding to 3 times the transducer pulse length as the minimum window for constructing the Nakagami image. This criterion does not produce sufficiently smooth images for the Nakagami image to characterize homogeneous tissues. To improve image smoothness, we proposed window-modulated compounding (WMC) Nakagami imaging based on summing and averaging the Nakagami images formed using sliding windows with varying window side lengths from 1 to N times the transducer pulse length in 1 pulse length step. Simulations (the number densities of scatterers: 2-16 scatterers/mm2) and experiments on fully developed speckle phantoms (the scatterer diameters: 20-106 μm) were conducted to suggest an appropriate number of frames N and to evaluate the image smoothness and resolution by analyzing the full width at half maximum (FWHM) of the parameter distribution and the widths of the image autocorrelation function (ACF), respectively. In vivo ultrasound measurements on rat livers without and with cirrhosis were performed to validate the practical performance of the WMC Nakagami image in tissue characterization. The simulation results showed that using a range of N from 7 to 10 as the number of frames for image compounding reduces the estimation error to less than 5%. Based on this criterion, the Nakagami parameter obtained from the WMC Nakagami image increased from 0.45 to 0.95 after increasing the number densities of scatterers from 2 to 16 scatterers/mm2. The FWHM of the parameter distribution (bins = 40) was 13.5 ± 1.4 for the Nakagami image and 9.1 ± 1.43 for the WMC Nakagami image, respectively (p-value <.05). The widths of the ACF for the Nakagami and WMC Nakagami images were 454 ± 5.36 and 458 ± 4.33, respectively (p-value >.05). In the phantom experiments, we also found that the FWHM of the parameter distribution for the WMC Nakagami image was smaller than that of the conventional Nakagami image (p-value <.05), and there was no significant difference of the ACF width between the Nakagami and WMC Nakagami images (p-value >.05). In the animal experiments, the Nakagami parameters obtained from the WMC Nakagami image for normal and cirrhotic rat livers were 0.62 ± 0.08 and 0.92 ± 0.07, respectively (p-value <.05). The results demonstrated that the WMC technique significantly improved the image smoothness of Nakagami imaging without resolution degradation, giving Nakagami model-based imaging the ability to visualize scatterer properties with enhanced image quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1448-1459
Number of pages12
JournalUltrasonics
Volume54
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 08 2014

Keywords

  • Backscattered statistics
  • Compounding Nakagami imaging
  • Nakagami distribution
  • Nakagami imaging

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