Spectral-based Quantitative Ultrasound Imaging Processing Techniques: Comparisons of RF Versus IQ Approaches

Mingrui Liu, Zhengchang Kou, Yuning Zhao, James W. Wiskin, Gregory J. Czarnota, Michael L. Oelze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quantitative ultrasound (QUS) is an imaging technique which includes spectral-based parameterization. Typical spectral-based parameters include the backscatter coefficient (BSC) and attenuation coefficient slope (ACS). Traditionally, spectral-based QUS relies on the radio frequency (RF) signal to calculate the spectral-based parameters. Many clinical and research scanners only provide the in-phase and quadrature (IQ) signal. To acquire the RF data, the common approach is to convert IQ signal back into RF signal via mixing with a carrier frequency. In this study, we hypothesize that the performance, that is, accuracy and precision, of spectral-based parameters calculated directly from IQ data is as good as or better than using converted RF data. To test this hypothesis, estimation of the BSC and ACS using RF and IQ data from software, physical phantoms and in vivo rabbit data were analyzed and compared. The results indicated that there were only small differences in estimates of the BSC between when using the original RF, the IQ derived from the original RF and the RF reconverted from the IQ, that is, root mean square errors (RMSEs) were less than 0.04. Furthermore, the structural similarity index measure (SSIM) was calculated for ACS maps with a value greater than 0.96 for maps created using the original RF, IQ data and reconverted RF. On the other hand, the processing time using the IQ data compared to RF data were substantially less, that is, reduced by more than a factor of two. Therefore, this study confirms two things: (1) there is no need to convert IQ data back to RF data for conducting spectral-based QUS analysis, because the conversion from IQ back into RF data can introduce artifacts. (2) For the implementation of real-time QUS, there is an advantage to convert the original RF data into IQ data to conduct spectral-based QUS analysis because IQ data-based QUS can improve processing speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages15
JournalUltrasonic Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • IQ signal
  • RF signal
  • attenuation imaging
  • backscatter coefficient
  • quantitative ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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