High-frame-rate echocardiography using unfocused transmit beams and parallel receive beamforming is a promising method for evaluation of cardiac function, such as imaging of rapid propagation of vibration of the heart wall resulting from electrical stimulation of the myocardium. In this technique, high temporal resolution is realized at the expense of spatial resolution and contrast. The phase coherence factor has been developed to improve spatial resolution and contrast in ultrasonography. It evaluates the variance in phases of echo signals received by individual transducer elements after delay compensation, as in the conventional delay-andsum beamforming process. However, the phase coherence factor suppresses speckle echoes because phases of speckle echoes fluctuate as a result of interference of echoes. In the present study, the receiving aperture was divided into several subapertures, and conventional delay-and-sum beamforming was performed with respect to each subaperture to suppress echoes from scatterers except for that at a focal point. After subaperture beamforming, the phase coherence factor was obtained from beamformed RF signals from respective subapertures. By means of this procedure, undesirable echoes, which can interfere with the echo from a focal point, can be suppressed by subaperture beamforming, and the suppression of the phase coherence factor resulting from phase fluctuation caused by such interference can be avoided. In the present study, the effect of subaperture beamforming in high-frame-rate echocardiography with the phase coherence factor was evaluated using a phantom. By applying subaperture beamforming, the average intensity of speckle echoes from a diffuse scattering medium was significantly higher (-39.9 dB) than that obtained without subaperture beamforming (-48.7 dB). As for spatial resolution, the width at half-maximum of the lateral echo amplitude profile obtained without the phase coherence factor was 1.06 mm. By using the phase coherence factor, spatial resolution was improved significantly, and subaperture beamforming achieved a better spatial resolution of 0.75 mm than that of 0.78 mm obtained without subaperture beamforming.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control|
|Publication status||Published - 2014 Nov 1|