Conventional linear arrays can be used for 3D ultrasound imaging, by moving the array in the elevation direction and stacking the planes in a volume. The point spread function (PSF) is larger in the elevation plane, as the aperture is smaller and has a fixed elevation focus. Resolution improvements in elevation can be achieved by applying synthetic aperture (SA) focusing to the beamformed in-plane RF-data. The proposed method uses a virtual source (VS) placed at the elevation focus for postbeamforming. This has previously been done in two steps, in plane focusing followed by SA post-focusing in elevation, because of a lack of a simple expression for the exact time of flight (ToF). This paper presents a new method for calculating the ToF for a 3D case in a single step using a linear array. This method is more flexible than the previously proposed method and is able to beamform a fewer number of points much more efficiently. The method is evaluated using both simulated data and phantom measurements using the RASMUS experimental scanner. Computational cost for the method is higher than the 2-step method for a full volume beamforming, but allows for a reduction by an order of magnitude if three planes are used for real-time visualization. In addition, the need for a temporary storage of beamformed data is removed.
|Journal||I E E E Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|