Ultrasound attenuation measurements using a reference phantom with sound speed mismatch

Kibo Nam*, Ivan M. Rosado-Mendez, Nicholas C. Rubert, Ernest L. Madsen, James A. Zagzebski, Timothy J. Hall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Ultrasonic attenuation may be measured accurately with clinical systems and array transducers by using reference phantom methods (RPM) to account for diffraction and other system dependencies on echo signals. Assumptions with the RPM are that the speeds of sound in the sample (cnum) and in the reference medium (cref) are the same and that they match the speed assumed in the system beamformer (cbf). This work assesses the accuracy of attenuation measurements by the RPM when these assumptions are not met. Attenuation was measured for two homogeneous phantoms, one with a speed of sound of 1500 m/s and the other with a sound speed of 1580 m/s. Both have an attenuation coefficient approximately equal to that of the reference, in which the speed of sound is 1540 m/s. Echo signals from the samples and the reference were acquired from a Siemens S2000 scanner with a 9L4 linear array transducer. Separate acquisitions were obtained with cbf at its default value of 1540 m/s and when it was set at values matching the speeds of sound of the phantoms. Simulations were also performed using conditions matching those of the experiment. RPM-measured attenuation coefficients exhibited spatially-dependent biases when csam differed from cbf and cref Mean errors of 19% were seen for simulated data, with the maximum errors in attenuation measurements occurring for regions of interest near the transmit focus. Biases were minimized (mean error with simulated data was 5.6%) using cbf that matched csam and assuring that power spectra used for attenuation computations in the sample are from precisely the same depth as those from the reference. Setting the transmit focus well beyond the depth range used to compute attenuation values minimized the bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-263
Number of pages13
JournalUltrasonic Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Attenuation
  • Backscatter
  • Beamformer
  • Quantitative ultrasound
  • Reference phantom method
  • Speed of sound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrasound attenuation measurements using a reference phantom with sound speed mismatch'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this