The goal of ultrasonic molecular imaging is the detection of targeted contrast agents bound to receptors on endothelial cells. We propose imaging methods that can distinguish adherent microbubbles from tissue and from freely circulating microbubbles, each of which would otherwise obscure signal from molecularly targeted adherent agents. The methods are based on a harmonic signal model of the returned echoes over a train of pulses. The first method utilizes an 'image-push-image' pulse sequence where adhesion of contrast agents is rapidly promoted by acoustic radiation force and the presence of adherent agents is detected by the signal change due to targeted microbubble adhesion. The second method rejects tissue echoes using a spectral high-pass filter. Free agent signal is suppressed by a pulse-to-pulse low-pass filter in both methods. An overlay of the adherent and/or flowing contrast agents on B-mode images can be readily created for anatomical reference. Contrast-to-tissue ratios from adherent microbubbles exceeding 30 dB and 20 dB were achieved for the two methods proposed, respectively. The performance of these algorithms is compared, emphasizing the significance and potential applications in ultrasonic molecular imaging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology