Dynamic Transmit–Receive Beamforming by Spatial Matched Filtering for Ultrasound Imaging with Plane Wave Transmission

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During conventional ultrasound imaging, the need for multiple transmissions for one image and the time of flight for a desired imaging depth limit the frame rate of the system. Using a single plane wave pulse during each transmission followed by parallel receive processing allows for high frame rate imaging. However, image quality is degraded because of the lack of transmit focusing. Beamforming by spatial matched filtering (SMF) is a promising method which focuses ultrasonic energy using spatial filters constructed from the transmit–receive impulse response of the system. Studies by other researchers have shown that SMF beamforming can provide dynamic transmit–receive focusing throughout the field of view. In this paper, we apply SMF beamforming to plane wave transmissions (PWTs) to achieve both dynamic transmit–receive focusing at all imaging depths and high imaging frame rate (>5000 frames per second). We demonstrated the capability of the combined method (PWT + SMF) of achieving two-way focusing mathematically through analysis based on the narrowband Rayleigh–Sommerfeld diffraction theory. Moreover, the broadband performance of PWT + SMF was quantified in terms of lateral resolution and contrast from both computer simulations and experimental data. Results were compared between SMF beamforming and conventional delay-and-sum (DAS) beamforming in both simulations and experiments. At an imaging depth of 40 mm, simulation results showed a 29% lateral resolution improvement and a 160% contrast improvement with PWT + SMF. These improvements were 17% and 48% for experimental data with noise.

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