The feasibility of using ultrasound-based elastic modulus imaging to visualize thermal ablation zones in an in vivo porcine model is reported. Elastic modulus images of soft tissues are estimated as an inverse optimization problem. Ultrasonically measured displacement data are utilized as inputs to determine an elastic modulus distribution that provides the best match to this displacement field. A total of 14 in vivo thermal ablation zones were investigated in this study. To determine the accuracy of delineation of each thermal ablation zone using elastic modulus imaging, the dimensions (lengths of long and short axes) and the area of each thermal ablation zone obtained from an elastic modulus image were compared to the corresponding gross pathology photograph of the same ablation zone. Comparison of elastic modulus imaging measurements and gross pathology measurements showed high correlation with respect to the area of thermal ablation zones (Pearson coefficient = 0.950 and p < 0.0001). The radiological-pathological correlation was slightly lower (correlation = 0.853, p < 0.0001) for strain imaging among these 14 in vivo ablation zones. We also found that, on average, elastic modulus imaging can more accurately depict thermal ablation zones, when compared to strain imaging (14.7% versus 22.3% absolute percent error in area measurements, respectively). Furthermore, elastic modulus imaging also provides higher (more than a factor of 2) contrast-to-noise ratios for evaluating these thermal ablation zones than those on corresponding strain images, thereby reducing inter-observer variability. Our preliminary results suggest that elastic modulus imaging might potentially enhance the ability to visualize thermal ablation zones, thereby improving assessment of ablative therapies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging