Purpose: Echocardiography is a widely used modality for diagnosis of the heart. It enables observation of the shape of the heart and estimation of global heart function based on B-mode and M-mode imaging. Subsequently, methods for estimating myocardial strain and strain rate have been developed to evaluate regional heart function. Furthermore, it has recently been shown that measurements of transmural transition of myocardial contraction/relaxation and propagation of vibration caused by closure of a heart valve would be useful for evaluation of myocardial function and viscoelasticity. However, such measurements require a frame rate much higher than that achieved by conventional ultrasonic diagnostic equipment. In the present study, a method based on parallel receive beamforming was developed to achieve high-frame-rate (over 300 Hz) echocardiography. Methods: To increase the frame rate, the number of transmits was reduced to 15 with angular intervals of 6 degrees, and 16 receiving beams were created for each transmission to obtain the same number and density of scan lines as realized by conventional sector scanning. In addition, several transmits were compounded to obtain each scan line to reduce the differences in transmit-receive sensitivities among scan lines. The number of transmits for compounding was determined by considering the width of the transmit beam. For transmission, plane waves and diverging waves were investigated. Diverging waves showed better performance than plane waves because the widths of plane waves did not increase with the range distance from the ultrasonic probe, whereas lateral intervals of scan lines increased with range distance. Results: The spatial resolution of the proposed method was validated using fine nylon wires. Although the widths at half-maxima of the point spread functions obtained by diverging waves were slightly larger than those obtained by conventional beamforming and parallel beamforming with plane waves, point spread functions very similar to those obtained by conventional beamforming could be realized by parallel beamforming with diverging beams and compounding. However, there was an increase in the lateral sidelobe level in the case of parallel beamforming with plane and diverging waves. Furthermore, the heart of a 23-year-old healthy male was measured. Conclusion: Although the contrast of the B-mode image obtained by the proposed method was degraded due to the increased sidelobe level, a frame rate of 316 Hz, much higher than that realized by conventional sector scanning of several tens of Hertz, was realized with a full lateral field of view of 90 degrees.
- diverging beam
- high-frame-rate imaging
- parallel beam forming
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging