Performance Evaluation of Adaptive Imaging Based on Multiphase Apodization with Cross-correlation: A Pilot Study in Abdominal Ultrasound

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Degradation of image contrast caused by phase aberration, off-axis clutter, and reverberation clutter remains one of the most important problems in abdominal ultrasound imaging. Multiphase apodization with cross-correlation (MPAX) is a novel beamforming technique that enhances ultrasound image contrast by adaptively suppressing unwanted acoustic clutter. MPAX employs multiple pairs of complementary sinusoidal phase apodizations to intentionally introduce grating lobes that can be used to derive a weighting matrix, which mostly preserves the on-axis signals from tissue but reduces acoustic clutter contributions when multiplied with the beamformed radio-frequency (RF) signals. In this paper, in vivo performance of the MPAX technique was evaluated in abdominal ultrasound using data sets obtained from 10 human subjects referred for abdominal ultrasound at the USC Keck School of Medicine. Improvement in image contrast was quantified, first, by the contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) and, second, by the rating of two experienced radiologists. The MPAX technique was evaluated for longitudinal and transverse views of the abdominal aorta, the inferior vena cava, the gallbladder, and the portal vein. Our in vivo results and analyses demonstrate the feasibility of the MPAX technique in enhancing image contrast in abdominal ultrasound and show potential for creating high contrast ultrasound images with improved target detectability and diagnostic confidence.

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