In Vivo Validation of an In Situ Calibration Bead as a Reference for Backscatter Coefficient Calculation

Yuning Zhao, Gregory J. Czarnota, Trevor H. Park, Rita J. Miller, Michael L. Oelze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The study described here was aimed at assessing the capability of quantitative ultrasound (QUS) based on the backscatter coefficient (BSC) for classifying disease states, such as breast cancer response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and quantification of fatty liver disease. We evaluated the effectiveness of an in situ titanium (Ti) bead as a reference target in calibrating the system and mitigating attenuation and transmission loss effects on BSC estimation. Methods: Traditional BSC estimation methods require external references for calibration, which do not account for ultrasound attenuation or transmission losses through tissues. To address this issue, we used an in situ Ti bead as a reference target, because it can be used to calibrate the system and mitigate the attenuation and transmission loss effects on estimation of the BSC. The capabilities of the in situ calibration approach were assessed by quantifying consistency of BSC estimates from rabbit mammary tumors (N = 21). Specifically, mammary tumors were grown in rabbits and when a tumor reached ≥1 cm in size, a 2 mm Ti bead was implanted in the tumor as a radiological marker and a calibration source for ultrasound. Three days later, the tumors were scanned with an L-14/5 38 array transducer connected to a SonixOne scanner with and without a slab of pork belly placed on top of the tumors. The pork belly acted as an additional source of attenuation and transmission loss. QUS parameters, specifically effective scatterer diameter (ESD) and effective acoustic concentration (EAC), were calculated using calibration spectra from both an external reference phantom and the Ti bead. Results: For ESD estimation, the 95% confidence interval between measurements with and without the pork belly layer was 6.0, 27.4 using the in situ bead and 114, 135.1 with the external reference phantom. For EAC estimation, the 95% confidence intervals were –8.1, 0.5 for the bead and –41.5, –32.2 for the phantom. These results indicate that the in situ bead method has reduced bias in QUS estimates because of intervening tissue losses. Conclusion: The use of an in situ Ti bead as a radiological marker not only serves its traditional role but also effectively acts as a calibration target for QUS methods. This approach accounts for attenuation and transmission losses in tissue, resulting in more accurate QUS estimates and offering a promising method for enhanced disease state classification in clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-842
Number of pages10
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number6
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Backscatter coefficient
  • In vivo reference
  • Quantitative ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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