The liver has been hypothesized to have a unique arrangement of microvasculature that presents as an arrangement of quasiperiodic scatterers to an interrogating ultrasound pulse. The mean scatterer spacing (MSS) of these quasiperiodic scatterers has been proposed as a useful quantitative ultrasound biomarker for characterizing liver tissue. Thermal ablation is an increasingly popular method for treating hepatic tumors, and ultrasonic imaging approaches for delineating the extent of thermal ablation are in high demand. In this work, we examine the distribution of estimated MSS in thermally coagulated bovine liver and normal untreated bovine liver ex vivo. We estimate MSS by detecting local maxima in the spectral coherence function of radio frequency echoes from a clinical transducer, the Siemens VFX 9L4 transducer operating on an S2000 scanner. We find that normal untreated bovine liver was characterized by an MSS of approximately 1.3 mm. We examined regions of interest 12 mm wide laterally, and ranging from 12 mm to 18 mm axially, in 2 mm increments. Over these parameters, the mode of the MSS estimates was between 1.25 and 1.37 mm. On the other hand, estimation of MSS in thermally coagulated liver tissue yields a distribution of MSS estimates whose mode varied between 0.45 and 1.0 mm when examining regions of interest over the same sizes. We demonstrate that the estimated MSS in thermally coagulated liver favors small spacings because the randomly positioned scatterers in this tissue are better modeled as aperiodic scatterers. The submillimeter spacings result from the fact that this was the most probable spacing to be estimated if the discretely sampled spectral coherence function was a uniformly random two-dimensional function.
- mean scatterer spacing (MSS)
- spectral coherence
- thermal ablation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging