Liver Fat Droplet Dependency on Ultrasound Backscatter Coefficient in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver

Yashuo Wu, Leonardo Lopez, Michael P. Andre, Rohit Loomba, Claude B. Sirlin, Mark A. Valasek, Matthew A. Wallig, William D. O'Brien, Aiguo Han

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Quantitative ultrasound (QUS) techniques are diagnostically useful in assessing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). From previous studies, the backscatter coefficient (BSC) correlates with liver fat fraction, but the mechanisms have not been determined. Understanding the ultrasound scattering mechanisms will lead to better acoustic scattering models and more accurate diagnostics. The purpose of this study is to test the following hypothesis: Fat droplet deposition in hepatocytes alters the locations of hepatocyte nuclei, changing the spatial distribution of the nuclei, which leads to the change in the structure function (SF), a factor of the BSC. The SF, determined by the distribution of the nuclei, is correlated with the fat fraction. To test this hypothesis, hematoxylin and eosin-stained liver histopathological slides from 48 participants were digitized (40×). One to 5 regions (453.6 µm × 453.6 µm) were selected from each participant's slide(s), yielding 218 images in total. For each image, hepatocyte nuclei and fat droplets each were automatically recognized. SF versus frequency was calculated from the nuclear distribution. Liver fat fraction was determined from the fractional surface area of fat droplets. SF was positively correlated with the liver fat fraction (Pearson's r 0.4, p < 10-4) below 30 MHz (including clinically relevant frequencies 3 - 5 MHz). In conclusion, this study shows the fat droplets change the distribution of hepatocyte nuclei, which is a factor contributing to the correlation between fat fraction and BSC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIUS 2020 - International Ultrasonics Symposium, Proceedings
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781728154480
StatePublished - Sep 7 2020
Event2020 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS 2020 - Las Vegas, United States
Duration: Sep 7 2020Sep 11 2020

Publication series

NameIEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS
ISSN (Print)1948-5719
ISSN (Electronic)1948-5727


Conference2020 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLas Vegas


  • Acoustic scattering
  • Histology
  • Nuclei recognition
  • Quantitative ultrasound
  • Structure function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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