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Supersonic shear imaging: a new technique for soft tissue elasticity mapping.

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Laboratoire Ondes et Acoustique, Ecole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, National French Center of Science, Université Paris VII, 75005 Paris, France.


Supersonic shear imaging (SSI) is a new ultrasound-based technique for real-time visualization of soft tissue viscoelastic properties. Using ultrasonic focused beams, it is possible to remotely generate mechanical vibration sources radiating low-frequency, shear waves inside tissues. Relying on this concept, SSI proposes to create such a source and make it move at a supersonic speed. In analogy with the "sonic boom" created by a supersonic aircraft, the resulting shear waves will interfere constructively along a Mach cone, creating two intense plane shear waves. These waves propagate through the medium and are progressively distorted by tissue heterogeneities. An ultrafast scanner prototype is able to both generate this supersonic source and image (5000 frames/s) the propagation of the resulting shear waves. Using inversion algorithms, the shear elasticity of medium can be mapped quantitatively from this propagation movie. The SSI enables tissue elasticity mapping in less than 20 ms, even in strongly viscous medium like breast. Modalities such as shear compounding are implementable by tilting shear waves in different directions and improving the elasticity estimation. Results validating SSI in heterogeneous phantoms are presented. The first in vivo investigations made on healthy volunteers emphasize the potential clinical applicability of SSI for breast cancer detection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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