Ex vivo Study of Quantitative Ultrasound Parameters in Fatty Rabbit Livers

Goutam Ghoshal, Roberto J. Lavarello, Jeremy P. Kemmerer, Rita J. Miller, Michael L. Oelze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects more than 30% of Americans, and with increasing problems of obesity in the United States, NAFLD is poised to become an even more serious medical concern. At present, accurate classification of steatosis (fatty liver) represents a significant challenge. In this study, the use of high-frequency (8 to 25 MHz) quantitative ultrasound (QUS) imaging to quantify fatty liver was explored. QUS is an imaging technique that can be used to quantify properties of tissue giving rise to scattered ultrasound. The changes in the ultrasound properties of livers in rabbits undergoing atherogenic diets of varying durations were investigated using QUS. Rabbits were placed on a special fatty diet for 0, 3, or 6 weeks. The fattiness of the livers was quantified by estimating the total lipid content of the livers. Ultrasonic properties, such as speed of sound, attenuation, and backscatter coefficients, were estimated in ex vivo rabbit liver samples from animals that had been on the diet for varying periods. Two QUS parameters were estimated based on the backscatter coefficient: effective scatterer diameter (ESD) and effective acoustic concentration (EAC), using a spherical Gaussian scattering model. Two parameters were estimated based on the backscattered envelope statistics (the k parameter and the μ parameter) according to the homodyned K distribution. The speed of sound decreased from 1574 to 1565 m/s and the attenuation coefficient increased from 0.71 to 1.27 dB/cm/MHz, respectively, with increasing fat content in the liver. The ESD decreased from 31 to 17 μm and the EAC increased from 38 to 63 dB/cm3 with increasing fat content in the liver. A significant increase in the μ parameter from 0.18 to 0.93 scatterers/mm3 was observed with increasing fat content in the liver samples. The results of this study indicate that QUS parameters are sensitive to fat content in the liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2238-2248
Number of pages11
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Attenuation coefficient
  • Backscatter coefficient
  • Envelope statistics
  • Fatty liver
  • Quantitative ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics


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