Biological Systems Engineering
Lateral Blood Flow Velocity Estimation Based on Ultrasound Speckle Size Change With Scan Velocity
Date of this Version
IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, vol. 57, no. 12, December 2010, pp. 2695 - 2703.
Conventional (Doppler-based) blood flow velocity measurement methods using ultrasound are capable of resolving the axial component (i.e., that aligned with the ultrasound propagation direction) of the blood flow velocity vector. However, these methods are incapable of detecting blood flow in the direction normal to the ultrasound beam. In addition, these methods require repeated pulse-echo interrogation at the same spatial location. A new method has been introduced which estimates the lateral component of blood flow within a single image frame using the observation that the speckle pattern corresponding to blood reflectors (typically red blood cells) stretches (i.e., is smeared) if the blood is moving in the same direction as the electronically-controlled transducer line selection in a 2-D image. The situation is analogous to the observed distortion of a subject photographed with a moving camera. The results of previous research showed a linear relationship between the stretch factor (increase in lateral speckle size) and blood flow velocity. However, errors exist in the estimation when used to measure blood flow velocity. In this paper, the relationship between speckle size and blood flow velocity is investigated further with both simulated flow data and measurements from a blood flow phantom. It can be seen that: 1) when the blood flow velocity is much greater than the scan velocity (spatial rate of A-line acquisition), the velocity will be significantly underestimated because of speckle decorrelation caused by quick blood movement out of the ultrasound beam; 2) modeled flow gradients increase the average estimation error from a range between 1.4% and 4.4%, to a range between 4.4% and 6.8%; and 3) estimation performance in a blood flow phantom with both flow gradients and random motion of scatterers increases the average estimation error to between 6.1% and 7.8%. Initial attempts at a multiple-scan strategy for estimating flow by a least-squares model suggest the possibility of increased accuracy using multiple scan velocities.
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