Advanced 3-D Ultrasound Imaging: 3-D Synthetic Aperture Imaging using Fully Addressed and Row-Column Addressed 2-D Transducer Arrays.

Hamed Bouzari

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Abstract

Compared with conventional 2-D ultrasound imaging, real-time 3-D (or 4-D) ultrasound imaging has several advantages, resulting in a significant progress in the ultrasound imaging instrumentation over the past decade. Viewing the patient’s anatomy as a volume helps physicians to comprehend the important diagnostic information in a noninvasive manner. Diagnostic and therapeutic decisions often require accurate estimates of e.g., organ, cyst, or tumor volumes. 3-D ultrasound imaging can provide these measurements without relying on the geometrical assumptions and operator-dependent skills involved in such estimations using 2-D scans. Although the detail resolution of ultrasound can not compete with 3-D imaging modalities such as CT and MRI, the combination of patient safety by using nonionizing radiation, cost-effectiveness, portability, and real-time imaging ability makes ultrasound the preferred choice in many clinical applications. Real-time 3-D ultrasound imaging is still not as widespread in use in the clinics as 2-D ultrasound imaging. Two limiting factors have traditionally been the low image quality as well as low volume rate achievable with a 2-D transducer array using the conventional 3-D beamforming technique, Parallel Beamforming. The first part of the scientific contributions of this Ph.D. project demonstrate that 3-D synthetic aperture imaging achieves a better sensitivity and a higher volume rate than the parallel beamforming technique. Data were obtained using both Field II simulations and measurements with the ultrasound research scanner SARUS and a 3.8 MHz 1024 element 2-D transducer array. In all investigations, 3-D synthetic aperture imaging achieved a better resolution, lower side-lobes, higher contrast, and better signal to noise ratio than parallel beamforming. This is achieved partly because synthetic aperture imaging removes the limitation of a fixed transmit focal depth and instead enables dynamic transmit focusing. Particularly, synthetic aperture imaging could increase the achievable volume rate compared with parallel beamforming, to almost 50 times. Lately, the major ultrasound companies have produced ultrasound scanners using 2-D transducer arrays with enough transducer elements to produce high quality 3-D images. Because of the large matrix transducers with integrated custom electronics, these systems are extremely expensive. The relatively low price of ultrasound scanners is one of the factors for the widespread use of ultrasound imaging. The high price tag on the high quality 3-D scanners is limiting their market share. Row-column addressing of 2-D transducer arrays is a low cost alternative to fully addressed 2-D arrays, for 3-D ultrasound imaging. Using row-column addressing, the number of transducer elements is dramatically reduced. This reduces the interconnection cost and removes the need to integrate custom made electronics into the probe. Two downsides of row-column addressing 2-D arrays are its lower lateral resolution due to its one-way focusing compared with two-way focusing in fully addressed 2-D arrays and also the inherent forward-looking imaging field of view. In the second part of the scientific contributions of this Ph.D. project, row-column addressing of 2-D arrays was investigated to assess the possibilities and drawbacks associated with transducer arrays using this addressing scheme, when integrated into probe handles. For that reason, two in-house prototyped 62+62 row-column addressed 2-D array transducer probes were manufactured using capacitive micromachined ultrasonic transducer (CMUT) and piezoelectric transducer (PZT) technology. Based on a set of acoustical measurements the center frequency, bandwidth, surface pressure, sensitivity, and acoustical cross-talks were evaluated and discussed. The imaging quality assessments were carried out based on Field II simulations as well as phantom measurements. Moreover, an analysis on comparing the lateral resolution with a fully addressed array were presented. To improve the imaging sensitivity, spatial matched filter beamforming was used as well as delay-and-sum approach. An analysis on increasing the inherent forward-looking achievable field of view of a flat row-column addressed 2-D array by using a double curved row-column addressed 2-D array was presented. A delay-and-sum beamforming approach suitable for a double curved row-column addressed 2-D array was introduced. Due to challenges on manufacturing double curved 2-D arrays, using a diverging acoustical lens was proposed and its imaging abilities were evaluated based on Field II simulations and measurements. Thereby, the inherent imaging limitation with flat row-column addressed 2-D arrays was overcome by using a diverging lens. Overall, having a low channel count and a large field of view, offers the potential to fabricate arrays with large aperture sizes, which is important for abdominal scans. Thus by using a curved row-column addressed 2-D array, 3-D imaging with equipment in the price range of conventional 2-D imaging could be possible. The main part of the thesis consists of eight scientific papers submitted for international conferences and journals during the Ph.D. project.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark, Department of Electrical Engineering
Number of pages302
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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