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Image Acquisition and Reconstruction (pre-2019)

Super-resolution ultrasound imaging

Project ID: 2015_115

Student: Jemma Brown

1st supervisor: Rob Eckersley, King’s College London
2nd supervisor: Mengxing Tang, Imperial College London

Medical Ultrasound Imaging is a versatile and powerful clinical diagnostic tool that is widely used throughout the medical community. At the heart of ultrasound there is a compromise, arising from the Physics of the process, between the achievable spatial resolution and the sensitivity and depth penetration of the modality.

In this project we will explore ultrasound super-resolution imaging that can be achieved by accurately localising the central position of many 1000’s of individual microbubbles as they flow through the tissue being imaged. By combining these measured microbubble centroids, it is possible to build up a super-resolved image of tissue vasculature that is not limited by diffraction of the ultrasound wave. To date we have demonstrated 2D super-resolution ultrasound imaging using a standard clinical ultrasound system that can acquire at frame rates of around 30 Hz and therefore requires many minutes to acquire an entire super-resolved image.

This project aims to provide orders of magnitude improvement in image acquisition time through the use super-fast plane wave ultrasound imaging that will greatly increase the image acquisition rate and enable 3D super-resolved imaging. Borrowing from current developments in the related fields of lasers and optics and our own work in acoustics, we will also investigate the possibility for high resolution ultrasound imaging at increased penetration depths. More accurate maps of tissue vasculature at depth in humans in vivo would ultimately have a large number of clinical applications including in the diagnosis and monitoring cancers and vascular diseases. Our recent publications prove that this is possible but there remain many challenges and intriguing problems to investigate and solve.

[1] Christensen-Jeffries K, et al. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging. 2014; 99
[2] Viessmann O, et al. Physics in Medicine and Biology. 2013; vol 58, issue 18, p 6447-6458

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