Echocardiography has become an indispensable modality for diagnosis of the heart. It enables observation of the shape of the heart and estimation of global heart function based on B-mode and M-mode imaging. Methods for echocardiographic estimation of myocardial strain and strain rate have also been developed to evaluate regional heart function. Furthermore, it has been recently shown that echocardiographic measurements of transmural transition of myocardial contraction/ relaxation and propagation of vibration caused by closure of the heart valve would be useful for evaluation of myocardial function and viscoelasticity. However, such measurements require a frame rate (typically >200 Hz) much higher than that achieved by conventional ultrasonic diagnostic equipment. We have recently realized a high frame rate of about 300 Hz with a full field of view of 90 using diverging transmit beams and parallel receive beamforming. Although high-frame-rate imaging was made possible by this method, the side lobe level was slightly larger than that of the conventional method. To reduce the side lobe level, phase coherence imaging has recently been developed. Using this method, the spatial resolution is improved and the side lobe level is also reduced. However, speckle-like echoes, for example, echoes from the inside of the heart wall, are also suppressed. In the present study, a method for reducing the side lobe level while preserving speckle-like echoes was developed. The side lobe level was evaluated using a wire phantom. The side lobe level of the high-frame-rate imaging using unfocused diverging beams was improved by 13.3 dB by the proposed method. In in vivo measurements, a B-mode image of the heart of a 23-year-old healthy male could be obtained while preserving the speckle pattern in the heart wall at a frame rate of 316 Hz with a full field of view of 90°.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|