Kalman Filter-Based Microbubble Tracking for Robust Super-Resolution Ultrasound Microvessel Imaging

Shanshan Tang, Pengfei Song, Joshua D. Trzasko, Matthew Lowerison, Chengwu Huang, Ping Gong, U. Wai Lok, Armando Manduca, Shigao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contrast microbubble (MB)-based super-resolution ultrasound microvessel imaging (SR-UMI) overcomes the compromise in conventional ultrasound imaging between spatial resolution and penetration depth and has been successfully applied to a wide range of clinical applications. However, clinical translation of SR-UMI remains challenging due to the limited number of MBs detected within a given accumulation time. Here, we propose a Kalman filter-based method for robust MB tracking and improved blood flow speed measurement with reduced numbers of MBs. An acceleration constraint and a direction constraint for MB movement were developed to control the quality of the estimated MB trajectory. An adaptive interpolation approach was developed to inpaint the missing microvessel signal based on the estimated local blood flow speed, facilitating more robust depiction of microvasculature with a limited amount of MBs. The proposed method was validated on an ex ovo chorioallantoic membrane and an in vivo rabbit kidney. Results demonstrated improved imaging performance on both microvessel density maps and blood flow speed maps. With the proposed method, the percentage of microvessel filling in a selected blood vessel at a given accumulation period was increased from 28.17% to 74.45%. A similar SR-UMI performance was achieved with MB numbers reduced by 85.96%, compared to that with the original MB number. The results indicate that the proposed method substantially improves the robustness of SR-UMI under a clinically relevant imaging scenario where SR-UMI is challenged by a limited MB accumulation time, reduced number of MBs, lowered imaging frame rate, and degraded signal-to-noise ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9051656
Pages (from-to)1738-1751
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Kalman filter
  • microbubble (MB) tracking
  • microvasculature
  • super-resolution
  • ultrasound microvessel imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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