Supersonic transient magnetic resonance elastography for quantitative assessment of tissue elasticity

Yu Liu, Jingfei Liu, Brett Z. Fite, Josquin Foiret, Asaf Ilovitsh, J. Kent Leach, Erik Dumont, Charles F. Caskey, Katherine W Ferrara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Non-invasive, quantitative methods to assess the properties of biological tissues are needed for many therapeutic and tissue engineering applications. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) has historically relied on external vibration to generate periodic shear waves. In order to focally assess a biomaterial or to monitor the response to ablative therapy, the interrogation of a specific region of interest by a focused beam is desirable and transient MRE (t-MRE) techniques have previously been developed to accomplish this goal. Also, strategies employing a series of discrete ultrasound pulses directed to increasing depths along a single line-of-sight have been designed to generate a quasi-planar shear wave. Such 'supersonic' excitations have been applied for ultrasound elasticity measurements. The resulting shear wave is higher in amplitude than that generated from a single excitation and the properties of the media are simply visualized and quantified due to the quasi-planar wave geometry and the opportunity to generate the wave at the site of interest. Here for the first time, we extend the application of supersonic methods by developing a protocol for supersonic transient magnetic resonance elastography (sst-MRE) using an MR-guided focused ultrasound system capable of therapeutic ablation. We apply the new protocol to quantify tissue elasticity in vitro using biologically-relevant inclusions and tissue-mimicking phantoms, compare the results with elasticity maps acquired with ultrasound shear wave elasticity imaging (US-SWEI), and validate both methods with mechanical testing. We found that a modified time-of-flight (TOF) method efficiently quantified shear modulus from sst-MRE data, and both the TOF and local inversion methods result in similar maps based on US-SWEI. With a three-pulse excitation, the proposed sst-MRE protocol was capable of visualizing quasi-planar shear waves propagating away from the excitation location and detecting differences in shear modulus of 1 kPa. The techniques demonstrated here have potential application in real-time in vivo lesion detection and monitoring, with particular significance for image-guided interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4083-4106
Number of pages24
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 20 2017


  • cancer
  • elastography
  • MR-guided ablation
  • supersonic ultrasound
  • time of flight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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