Alterations in ultrasound scattering following thermal ablation in ex vivo bovine liver

Nicholas Rubert*, Tomy Varghese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Thermal ablation is a minimally invasive cancer treatment which has been rapidly gaining clinical acceptance. It is well known that thermal ablation increases the acoustic attenuation and shear modulus of tissue. In this work, we examine changes to the spatial distribution of scatterers in liver tissue following thermal ablation. Acoustic scatterers within liver tissue have frequently been modeled as pseudo-periodic. The positions of pseudo-periodic scatterers have been Gamma distributed along the beam dimension, and these scatterers are characterized by their mean scatterer spacing (MSS). Prior work have demonstrated significant changes in MSS due to diffuse liver disease, such as steatosis progressing to cirrhosis. However, relatively few results have been reported regarding changes in MSS following thermal ablation. In this study, we estimated MSS in ex vivo bovine liver by detecting local maxima in spectral coherence functions calculated using Thomson's multi-taper method. We examined a large number of uncorrelated regions of interest recorded from five normal bovine livers (∼300 images from each animal). We also examined a large number of ROI's from five bovine livers following thermal coagulation. All bovine livers were obtained from a commercial meat production facility immediately following animal sacrifice and imaged within 12 hours. Thermal coagulation was induced by heating liver in saline water baths at 80° C for 45 minutes. For normal, unheated liver an MSS of approximately 1.5 mm was estimated. Following thermal ablation, an MSS of approximately 0.5 mm in thermally coagulated tissue was obtained. Frequently, studies estimating MSS in liver tissue provide an MSS estimate regardless of the state of tissue. Authors rarely present what their MSS estimation algorithm would produce if it were applied to tissue which is better modeled as a collection of uniformly, randomly distributed scatterers lacking periodicity. In this study, we found that thermal coagulation results in a loss of periodicity. The MSS of 0.5 mm corresponds to the value that a spectral coherence-based MSS algorithm would produce if presented with a signal that was generated from uniform, randomly distributed scatterers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781479970490
StatePublished - Oct 20 2014
Event2014 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS 2014 - Chicago, United States
Duration: Sep 3 2014Sep 6 2014

Publication series

NameIEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS
ISSN (Print)1948-5719
ISSN (Electronic)1948-5727


Other2014 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • MSS
  • spectral coherence
  • thermal ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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