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A review for the advances in medical ultrasound investigation

Georgescu Remus Florin. U.M.F.T. Victor Babe Timioara
Disciplina de Biofizic
A review for the advances in medical ultrasound investigation
Dr. Georgescu Remus Florin.
U.M.F.T. Victor Babe Timioara - Disciplina de Biofizic
Recently significant advances have been made and introduced into various fields of
technology, like the use of new piezoelectric materials in broadband ultrasound transducers
for medical use.
Single pulse, multipulse and multiline techniques are used to improve the spatial
resolution and to obtain a better penetration. Non-linear imaging uses the harmonic
component, which is generated by tissues or by contrast agents. New modalities can be used
to separate harmonics from fundamental bands, from the received signal. Higher frequencies
from 7MHz till 50 MHz are used now to obtain a better image in various medical fields. 3D
transformation and reconstruction techniques are now available from 2D quality ultrasound
pictures. Image reconstruction from 2D to 3D is demonstrated with examples.
All this advances indicate the contribution of ultrasound in noninvasive medical
imaging, and the great potential for future developing.
Keywords: advances, technology, ultrasound, single pulse, multipulse, multiline, 2D to 3D
transformation and reconstruction.
O evaluare a progresului realizat n tehnica investigaiilor
medicale cu ultrasunete
Georgescu Remus Florin. U.M.F.T. Victor Babe Timioara
Disciplina de Biofizic
Recent progrese semnificative au fost realizate i aplicate n domenii variate de
tehnologie, de exemplu folosirea de noi materiale piezoelectrice n sondele medicale de band
larg cu ultrasunete.
Tehnicile unipuls, multipuls i multilinie sunt folosite acum pentru a mbuntii
rezoluia spaial i a obine o penetraie mai bun. Imagistica nelinear folosete componenta
armonic, care este generat de esuturi sau ageni de contrast.
Noi modaliti pot fi folosite pentru a separa armonicile de benzile fundamentale a
semnalului recepionat. Tehnici 3D sunt disponibile la momentul de fa.


Toate aceste progrese indic contribuia ultrasunetelor n imagistica medical

noninvaziv, i un mare potenial al acestora de dezvoltare n viitor.
Cuvinte cheie: Progrese, tehnologie, ultrasunete, unipuls, multipuls, multilinie
New scientific achievements in materials and technology are now implemented in the
medical ultrasound devices that have been developed in the past years. Currently ceramic
heads of variable thickness and shape are used in multiplayer assembly from Hitachi in their
ultrasound transducers. These technical advances have permitted a more accurate shaping of
ultrasound pulses, in terms of the control of transmission frequency, amplitude, phase and
pulse length [1,2,3,4].
Broadband transducers have been introduced to the market in following of this technical
achievements. Theoretically it can be sad that as shorter the pulse length, as broader the pulse
bandwidth. (Fig. 1a-c).
The benefit of using a broadband transducer is the improvement of the axial resolution , due
to shorter pulse lengths. Higher transmission frequencies give a better spatial resolution in the

Fig. 1a-c
Broadband Transducers
near field, and lower frequencies allow a better penetration in the far field [5].
Actually higher emission frequencies are used in modern transducers, this is possible
because of the improvement in piezoelectric materials, early digitization in signal processing,
and better analysis of received echoes with a lower level of noise for image displaying. As
example, a liver evaluation in a adult body is now possible at 7 MHz, the older transducer
models were working at 3,5 MHz.
High frequency ultrasound ( 20 MHz) is used in cutting edge technology for
measurements of very low blood flow velocities (<0,5 mm/s) in 100 300 m diameter
vessels. Very high frequency ultrasound ( 50 MHz) is usable for 3D imaging and for the
evaluation of the cornea and the anterior segment of the eye, allowing precise biometry of
pathological processes. Most of this cutting edge transducers are not yet commercially
available [6,7].
By using multiple beam formers the phase can be determined with the comparison of
phases for pulses from adjacent lines ( technique used by ACUSON ). A wide variety of pulse


characteristics-modulation processes have been introduced by commercial companies, but

detailed specifications are often not published.
The description that follows refers to new introduced processes in ultrasound
technique, and is showing the great potential for improvements that lays beneath ultrasound.
A classification can be made according to the number of pulses and scan lines used [7].
In single pulse technique it is necessary to limit the overlap between the fundamental
frequency and harmonic response by narrowing the frequency spectrum. In theory, narrowing
the frequency spectrum of o pulse results in a longer pulse therefore a degradation of the axial
resolution appears. The shaping of the transmit pulse allows better separation of the
fundamental and harmonic spectrum, preserving broadband harmonic imaging with excellent
axial resolution. (Fig. 2).

Principle of precise pulse shaping (Acuson-Siemens)
Acuson uses a chirped emission , a long, specially shaped transmitter pulse (a chirp)
that is variable in frequency and amplitude within the duration of the pulse itself. On receive,
echoes pass through a filter that is an exact time reversed replica of the transmitted chirp. At
the output of the filter, the received signal from any small scatter is tall and narrow, meaning
that the image has very high axial resolution, increased signal to noise ration and increased
penetration [1,2].
In multi pulse technique or coded emission mode, the scanner transmits not a single
pulse but a sequence of 8 to 22 short, high frequency transmission pulses that may have
different phases and are modulated in a code sequence. A very high sampling rate is used for
comparison between transmitted pulses and received signal with passing through matched
filters. The same technique is used in military radars and sonars , resulting in a higher image
penetration, with an uncompromised quality of axial resolution or increasing the transmitted
peak pressures.(Fig.3) [8].




Fig. 3
Principle of coded emission
Multi pulse techniques are using the emission of consecutive pulses of opposite phase.
ATL Philips developed the pulse inversion technique and Siemens the phase inversion. The
techniques are very near one to each other and consists in two pulses of opposite polarity
transmitted along the same line. The substarction process of the two signals results in a
relative increase in the non-linear response from tissues by canceling the response from
structures which have small non linear
components. (Fig 4).

This methods are susceptible to motion artifacts which allow the fundamental signal to leak

No signal

Harmonic signal

Fig. 4
Pulse inversion mode

through and mask as a harmonic.

Agilent developed a better approach of this method, called amplitude modulation, in
which the two pulses differ in phase and amplitude of the other one. Prior to the sum being
performed the received signal from the half amplitude pulse is multiplied by a factor of two
allowing grater emphasis of the non-linear components.
In development is a better multi pulse technique by ATL-Philips, in which a third
pulse with relative inverted phase follows the other two pulses.(Fig 5).

No signal

Fig. 5
Principle of power pulse

This technique hass the advantage to reduce in motion the flash artifacts and allow a more
complete separation between contrast and tissue.
In the previously described techniques if working in multilane it nearly eliminates the
frame reduction caused by multi pulses [1,2].
Accuson Siemens have developed a multiline technique in which the amplitude and
phase information of the received signal from two adjacent lines can be added using dual
receive beams, allowing the cancellation of the fundamental signal and the emphases of
harmonic signals. This method offers the advantage of maintaining the frame rate and exhibits
less motion artefact.(Fig6)[1,2]

Fig. 6
Principle of coherent phase imaging (Acuson-Siemens)

In the dynam
ens , edge elements have a
ic transmit focusing modality by Acuson-Siem
longer pulse excita
king the ultrasound beam focus at two
tion than center elements, ma
different points in tthe
n. As the resulting wavefront
he insonated field, improving lateral resolutio
has the characteristics of a short excitation pulse, the axial resolution is preserved. The
introduction of the 1.5 D transducer by Siemens, which is designed to include three to seven
parallel rows of short elements, induced a progress in 3D imaging.(Fig. 7a-c)


Fig. 7a-c
Active matrix transducer

The method allows focusing control in the z-plane, improves the spatial and contrast
resolution, reduces partial volume artifacts, but requires the management of a high number of
channels [9]. An other method is to use a Hanafy lens (acoustic lens) (Acuson Siemens)
that uses a variable thickness crystal to produce a narrow and uniform image slice thickness
and, simultaneously, an extremely broad bandwidth pulse. The outer portion of the crystal
resonates at the lowest frequency, and is focused, in both transmission and reception, at the
deepest part of the image where the low frequencies also provide better penetration. The
central portion is thinner, resonates at higher frequencies and focuses more superficially (fig
8) [1,2].


Fig. 8
Hanafy Lens (Acuson-Siemens)

In accord to the above described techniques, including many other research fields with
promising developments, radiologists must keep aware of these new developments, which
could open new diagnostic horizons and might be substitutions for radiating and high cost
imaging modalities.

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