Ultrasound Frequency Mixing for Enhanced Contrast Harmonic Imaging of Microbubbles

Keren T. Karlinsky, Tali Ilovitsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Microbubbles serve as contrast agents in diagnostic ultrasound imaging. Contrast harmonic imaging of microbubbles takes advantage of their nonlinear properties that generate additional harmonic frequencies in the received spectrum. However, contrast harmonic imaging suffers from limitations in terms of contrast, the signal-to-noise ratio, and artifacts. This article presents an enhanced, real-time, nonlinear imaging technique based on the excitation of microbubbles with a dual frequency waveform. The microbubbles trigger a frequency mixing effect that generates additional frequency components in the received spectrum; i.e. difference and sum frequencies, in addition to the standard harmonics, thus amplifying the microbubble’s nonlinear response and enhancing image contrast. In this real-time approach, two single frequency waveforms are superpositioned into a dual frequency transmission. The dual frequency waveform is incorporated into a standard pulse-inversion sequence and is transmitted by an array transducer using an arbitrary waveform generator in a programmable ultrasound system. Upon receive, standard dynamic receive beamforming is used, without additional post-processing. Numerical simulations using the Marmottant model are used to confirm the generation of the difference frequency in the microbubble’s backscattered echoes. The resulting image quality enhancement is demonstrated in a tissue-mimicking phantom containing microbubbles suspension. A maximal contrast improvement of 3.43 dB compared to standard pulse-inversion was achieved, along with a reduction by 4.5 fold in the mechanical index.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Contrast harmonic imaging
  • Difference frequency
  • Frequency mixing
  • Harmonic analysis
  • Imaging
  • Microbubbles
  • Power harmonic filters
  • Real-time systems
  • Standards
  • Transducers
  • Ultrasonic imaging
  • Ultrasound

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