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Integrative Technique for Improved Signal-to-Noise Ratio in Medical Imaging

Description:

Executive Summary
Researchers led by the University of Virginia’s William F. Walker, Ph.D., have developed an angular imaging system that improves the quality and diagnostic potential of medical imaging techniques. This novel technology uses translating apertures to acquire medical images with an improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and, unlike conventional ultrasound systems, acquires data at a number of angles of interrogation.

Background
In medical imaging, two types of wave energy are produced as the incident wave scatters from tissue structures: backscatter and angular scatter. As conventional ultrasound systems map only the acoustic backscatter, the resulting images represent only a fraction of the information available from the scattered sound field.

Angular scatter is a significant source of untapped information. Angular scatter measurements typically exhibit large statistical fluctuations that lead to reduced SNR, making them unsuitable for clinical imaging.

Invention Description
This invention significantly improves upon the quality of medical imaging results by integrating information from both acoustic backscatter and angular scatter. In contrast to previous attempts to integrate angular scattering, this invention uses translating apertures, which yield identical speckle patterns at all angles of interrogation.

Angular variation in the received signal is solely due to the intrinsic scattering of the target, rather than a function of the hardware. This leads to a 10–15 dB improvement in contrast over previous techniques and provides images with a higher SNR, which will have significant clinical impact in areas such as tumor characterization and atherosclerotic plaque differentiation.

This invention is published as issued U.S. Patent No. 6,692,439.

Advantages
The invention:

  • Is protected by an issued U.S. patent
  • Easily integrates into current intervascular ultrasound (IVUS) systems
  • Applies to RADAR and SONAR as well as ultrasound
  • Processes data acquired at different scattering angles
  • Offers information unavailable from current ultrasound systems
  • Improves the visibility of microcalcifications and allows differentiation of calcified atherosclerotic plaques

 

Patent Information:
Category(s):
Imaging & Radiology
For Information, Contact:
Christopher Paschall
Licensing Manager
UVA
cdp8x@virginia.edu
Inventors:
William Walker
Gregg Trahey
Michael McCallister
Keywords:
Imaging
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