IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control
Although interventional devices such as needles,
guide wires and catheters are best visualized by X-ray, real-time volumetric echography could offer an attractive alternative as it avoids ionizing radiation; it provides good soft tissue contrast and it is mobile and relatively cheap. Unfortunately, as echography is traditionally used to image soft tissue and blood flow, the appearance of interventional devices in conventional ultrasound images remains relatively poor which is a major obstacle towards
ultrasound-guided interventions. The objective of the current study was therefore to enhance the appearance of interventional devices in ultrasound images. Thereto a modified ultrasound beamforming process using conventional focused transmit beams is proposed that exploits the properties of received signals containing specular reflections (as arising from these devices).
This new beamforming approach referred to as Delay and
Standard Deviation beamforming (DASD) was quantitatively
tested using simulated as well as experimental data using a linear array transducer. Furthermore, the influence of different imaging settings (i.e. transmit focus, imaging depth and scan angle) on the obtained image contrast was evaluated. The study showed that the image contrast of specular regions improved by 5 to 30dB using DASD beamforming compared to traditional delay and sum (DAS) beamforming. The highest gain in contrast was observed when the interventional device was tilted away from being orthogonal to the transmit beam, which is a major limitation in standard DAS imaging. As such, the proposed
beamforming methodology can offer an improved visualization of interventional devices in the ultrasound image with potential implications for ultrasound-guided interventions.