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J Acoust Soc Am. 2009 Jan;125(1):522-9. doi: 10.1121/1.3035841.

Bone sonometry: reducing phase aberration to improve estimates of broadband ultrasonic attenuation.

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Washington University, Physics, Saint Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


Previous studies suggest that phase cancellation at the receiving transducer can result in the overestimation of the frequency dependent ultrasonic attenuation of bone, a quantity that has been shown to correlate with bone mineral density and ultimately with osteoporotic fracture risk. Evidence supporting this interpretation is provided by phase insensitive processing of the data, which appear to reduce the apparent overestimates of attenuation. The present study was designed to clarify the components underlying phase aberration artifacts in such through-transmission measurements by conducting systematic studies of the simplest possible test objects capable of introducing phase aberration. Experimental results are presented for a Lexan phantom over the frequency range 300-700 kHz and a Plexiglas phantom over the 3-7 MHz range. Both phantoms were flat and parallel plates featuring a step discontinuity milled into one of their initially flat sides. The through-transmitted signals were received by a 0.6 mm diameter membrane hydrophone that was raster scanned over a grid coaxial with the transmitting transducer. Signals received by the pseudoarray were processed offline to emulate phase sensitive and phase insensitive receivers with different aperture diameters. The data processed phase sensitively were focused to demonstrate the results of planar, geometrical, and correlation-based aberration correction methods. Results are presented illustrating the relative roles of interference in the ultrasonic field and phase cancellation at the receiving transducer in producing phase aberration artifacts. It was found that artifacts due to phase cancellation or interference can only be minimized with phase insensitive summation techniques by choosing an appropriately large receiving aperture. Data also suggest the potentially confounding role of time-and frequency-domain artifacts on ultrasonic measurements and illustrate the advantages of two-dimensional receiving arrays in determining the slope of attenuation (nBUA) for the clinical assessment of osteoporosis.

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