Three-dimensional Visualization of Ultrasound Backscatter Statistics by Window-modulated Compounding Nakagami Imaging

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Abstract

In this study, the window-modulated compounding (WMC) technique was integrated into three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound Nakagami imaging for improving the spatial visualization of backscatter statistics. A 3D WMC Nakagami image was produced by summing and averaging a number of 3D Nakagami images (number of frames denoted as N) formed using sliding cubes with varying side lengths ranging from 1 to N times the transducer pulse. To evaluate the performance of the proposed 3D WMC Nakagami imaging method, agar phantoms with scatterer concentrations ranging from 2 to 64 scatterers/mm3 were made, and six stages of fatty liver (zero, one, two, four, six, and eight weeks) were induced in rats by methionine-choline-deficient diets (three rats for each stage, total n = 18). A mechanical scanning system with a 5-MHz focused single-element transducer was used for ultrasound radiofrequency data acquisition. The experimental results showed that 3D WMC Nakagami imaging was able to characterize different scatterer concentrations. Backscatter statistics were visualized with various numbers of frames; N = 5 reduced the estimation error of 3D WMC Nakagami imaging in visualizing the backscatter statistics. Compared with conventional 3D Nakagami imaging, 3D WMC Nakagami imaging improved the image smoothness without significant image resolution degradation, and it can thus be used for describing different stages of fatty liver in rats.

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