Improved contrast for high frame rate imaging using coherent compounding combined with spatial matched filtering

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The concept of high frame rate ultrasound imaging (typically greater than 1000 frames per second) has inspired new fields of clinical applications for ultrasound imaging such as fast cardiovascular imaging, fast Doppler imaging and real-time 3D imaging. Coherent plane-wave compounding is a promising beamforming technique to achieve high frame rate imaging. By combining echoes from plane waves with different angles, dynamic transmit focusing is efficiently accomplished at all points in the image field. Meanwhile, the image frame rate can still be kept at a high level. Spatial matched filtering (SMF) with plane-wave insonification is a novel ultrafast beamforming method. An analytical study shows that SMF is equivalent to synthetic aperture methods that can provide dynamic transmit-receive focusing throughout the field of view. Experimental results show that plane-wave SMF has better performance than dynamic-receive focusing. In this paper, we propose integrating coherent plane-wave compounding with SMF to obtain greater image contrast. By using a combination of SMF beamformed images, image contrast is improved without degrading its high frame rate capabilities. The performance of compounded SMF (CSMF) is evaluated and compared with that of synthetic aperture focusing technique (SAFT) beamforming and compounded dynamic-receive-focus (CDRF) beamforming. The image quality of different beamforming methods was quantified in terms of contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR). Our results show that the new SMF based plane-wave compounding method provides better contrast than DAS based compounding method. Also CSMF can obtain a similar contrast level to dynamic transmit-receive focusing with only 21 transmit events.

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