This contribution demonstrates that quantitative ultrasound (QUS) capabilities are platform independent, using an in vivo model. Frequency-dependent attenuation estimates, backscatter coefficient, and effective scatterer diameter estimates are shown to be comparable across four different ultrasound imaging systems with varied processing techniques. The backscatter coefficient (BSC) is a fundamental material property from which several QUS parameters are estimated; therefore, consistent BSC estimates among different systems must be demonstrated. This study is an intercomparison of BSC estimates acquired by three research groups (UIUC, UW, ISU) from four in vivo spontaneous rat mammary fibroadenomas using three clinical array systems and a single-element laboratory scanner system. Because of their highly variable backscatter properties, fibroadenomas provided an extreme test case for BSC analysis, and the comparison is across systems for each tumor, not across the highly heterogeneous tumors. RF echo data spanning the 1 to 12 MHz frequency range were acquired in three dimensions from all animals using each system. Each research group processed their RF data independently, and the resulting attenuation, BSC, and effective scatterer diameter (ESD) estimates were compared. The attenuation estimates across all systems showed the same trends and consistently fit the power-law dependence on frequency. BSCs varied among the multiple slices of data acquired by each transducer, with variations between transducers being of a similar magnitude as those from slice to slice. Variation between BSC estimates was assessed via functional signal-to-noise ratios derived from backscatter data. These functional signal-to-noise ratios indicated that BSC versus frequency variations between systems ranged from negligible compared with the noise level to roughly twice the noise level. The corresponding functional analysis of variance (fANOVA) indicated statistically significant differences between BSC curves from different systems. However, root mean squared difference errors of the BSC values (in decibels) between different transducers and imaging platforms were less than half of the BSC magnitudes in most cases. Statistical comparison of the effective scatterer diameter (ESD) estimates resulted in no significant differences in estimates from three of the four transducers used for those estimates, demonstrating agreement among estimates based on the BSC. This technical advance demonstrates that these in vivo measurements can be made in a system-independent manner; the necessary step toward clinical implementation of the technology.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control|
|State||Published - 2013|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering