Ultrafast vascular strain compounding using plane wave transmission

H. Hansen, A. Saris, N. Vaka, M. Nillesen and C. de Korte

Medical UltraSound Imaging Center (MUSIC), Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Radboud University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
Jan, 2014



Deformations of the atherosclerotic vascular wall induced by the pulsating blood can be estimated using ultrasound strain imaging. Because these deformations indirectly provide information on mechanical plaque composition, strain imaging is a promising technique for differentiating between stable and vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques. This paper first explains 1-D radial strain estimation as applied intravascularly in coronary arteries. Next, recent methods for noninvasive vascular strain estimation in a transverse imaging plane are discussed. Finally, a compounding technique that our group recently developed is explained. This technique combines motion estimates of subsequently acquired focused ultrasound images obtained at various insonification angles. However, because the artery moves and deforms during the multi-angle acquisition, errors are introduced when compounding. Recent advances in computational power have enabled plane wave ultrasound acquisition, which allows 100 times faster image acquisition and thus might resolve the motion artifacts. In this paper the performance of strain imaging using plane wave compounding is investigated using simulations of an artery with a vulnerable plaque and experimental data of a two-layered vessel phantom. The results show that plane wave compounding outperforms 0° focused strain imaging. For the simulations, the root mean squared error reduced by 66\% and 50\% for radial and circumferential strain, respectively. For the experiments, the elastographic signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratio (SNRe and CNRe) increased with 2.1dB and 3.7dB radially, and 5.6dB and 16.2dB circumferentially. Because of the high frame rate, the plane wave compounding technique can even be further optimized and extended to 3D in future.