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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2013 Oct;39(10):1826-37. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2013.03.022. Epub 2013 Jul 21.

Echo-power estimation from log-compressed video data in dynamic contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging.

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1
Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France.

Abstract

Ultrasound (US) scanners typically apply lossy, non-linear modifications to the US data for visualization purposes. The resulting images are then stored as compressed video data. Some system manufacturers provide dedicated software for quantification purposes to eliminate such processing distortions, at least partially. This is currently the recommended approach for quantitatively assessing changes in contrast-agent concentration from clinical data. However, the machine-specific access to US data and the limited set of analysis functionalities offered by each dedicated-software package make it difficult to perform comparable analyses with different US systems. The objective of this work was to establish if linearization of compressed video images obtained with an arbitrary US system can provide an alternative to dedicated-software analysis of machine-specific files for the estimation of echo-power. For this purpose, an Aplio 50 system (Toshiba Medical Systems, Tochigi, Japan), coupled with dedicated CHI-Q (Contrast Harmonic Imaging Quantification) software by Toshiba Medical Systems, was used. Results were compared with two approaches that apply algorithms to estimate relative echo-power from compressed video images: commercially available VueBox software by Bracco Suisse SA (Geneva, Switzerland) and in-laboratory software called PixPower. The echo-power estimated by CHI-Q analysis indicated a strong linear relationship versus agent concentration in vitro (R(2) ≥ 0.9996) for dynamic range (DR) settings of DR60 and DR80, with slopes between 9.22 and 9.57 dB/decade (p = 0.05). These values approach the theoretically predicted dependence of 10.0 dB/decade (equivalent to 3 dB for each concentration doubling). Echo-power estimations obtained from compressed video images with VueBox and PixPower also exhibited strong linear proportionality with concentration (R(2) ≥ 0.9996), with slopes between 9.30 and 9.68 dB/decade (p = 0.05). On an independent in vivo data set (N = 24), the difference in echo-power estimation between CHI-Q and each of the other two approaches was calculated after excluding regions that contain pixels affected by saturated or thresholded pixel values. The mean difference in estimates (expressed in decibels) was -0.25 dB between VueBox and CHI-Q (95% confidence interval: -0.75 to 0.26 dB) and -0.17 dB between PixPower and CHI-Q (95% confidence interval: -0.67 to 0.13 dB). To achieve linearization of data, one of the approaches (VueBox) requires calibration files provided by the software manufacturer for each machine type and setting. The other (PixPower) requires empirical correction of the imaging dynamic range based on ground truth data. These requirements could potentially be removed if US system manufacturers were willing to make relevant information on the applied processing publically available. Reliable echo-power estimation from linearized data would facilitate inclusion of different US systems in multicentric studies and more widespread implementation of emerging techniques for quantitative analysis of contrast ultrasound.

KEYWORDS:

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound; Echo-power; Linearization; Log compression; Microbubbles; Perfusion quantification; Video compression

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