Conventional color Doppler imaging is limited, since it only provides velocity estimates along the ultrasound beam direction for a restricted field of view at a limited frame rate. High-frame-rate speckle tracking, using plane wave transmits, has shown potential for 2-D blood velocity estimation. However, due to the lack of focusing in transmit, image quality gets reduced, which hampers speckle tracking. Although ultrafast imaging facilitates improved clutter filtering, it still remains a major challenge in blood velocity estimation. Signal dropouts and poor velocity estimates are still present for high beam-to-flow angles and low blood flow velocities. In this paper, ultrafast plane wave imaging was combined with multiscale speckle tracking to assess the 2-D blood velocity vector in a common carotid artery (CCA) flow field. A multiangled plane wave imaging sequence was used to compare the performance of displacement compounding, coherent compounding, and compound speckle tracking. Zero-degree plane wave imaging was also evaluated. The performance of the methods was evaluated before and after clutter filtering for the large range of velocities (0-1.5 m/s) that are normally present in a healthy CCA during the cardiac cycle. An extensive simulation study was performed, based on a sophisticated model of the CCA, to investigate and evaluate the performance of the methods at different pulse repetition frequencies and signal-to-noise levels. In vivo data were acquired of a healthy carotid artery bifurcation to support the simulation results. In general, methods utilizing compounding after speckle tracking, i.e., displacement compounding and compound speckle tracking, were least affected by clutter filtering and provided the most robust and accurate estimates for the entire velocity range. Displacement compounding, which uses solely axial information to estimate the velocity vector, provided most accurate velocity estimates, although it required sufficiently high pulse repetition frequencies in high blood velocity phases and reliable estimates for all acquisition angles. When this latter requirement was not met, compound speckle tracking was most accurate, because it uses the possibility to discard angular velocity estimates corrupted by clutter filtering. Similar effects were observed for in vivo data obtained at the carotid artery bifurcation. Investigating a combination of these two compounding techniques is recommended for future research.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Nov 2016|
- Blood flow
- plane wave imaging
- ultrafast imaging
- vector velocity imaging