FREEHAND ULTRASOUND ELASTOGRAPHY WITH A 3D PROBE
G.M. Treece, J.E. Lindop, R.W. Prager and A.H. Gee
This paper presents the first near-real-time freehand ultrasound elastography system using a threedimensional (3D) mechanical probe. Acquisition is complete within 2 seconds, and only an additional 20 seconds are required for generation of a full 3D strain volume. The strain is axial, with estimates of lateral and elevational tissue movement used to increase the accuracy of the axial strain measurement. This is the first time all system components have been extended to 3D, i.e. 3D windows are used to track displacement, which is tracked in all directions, and 3D kernels are used for least squares gradient estimates. Normalisation of the freehand 3D strain data is also applied across the whole volume. The system is tested using a novel research 3D RF system with real time control over the stepper motor driving the ultrasound probe, and real-time streaming of RF ultrasound data. The paper proves the concept rather than making significant comments on the achievable accuracy in 3D, though we demonstrate that the high performance of the 2D techniques which we extend appears to carry through to in vitro and in vivo 3D data. The result is a fast and high resolution 3D image of normalised axial strain.
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