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Ultrasound Med Biol. 2017 May;43(5):993-1003. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2017.01.011. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

Characterization of the Lung Parenchyma Using Ultrasound Multiple Scattering.

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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Electronic address:
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.


The purpose of the study described here was to showcase the application of ultrasound to quantitative characterization of the micro-architecture of the lung parenchyma to predict the extent of pulmonary edema. The lung parenchyma is a highly complex and diffusive medium for which ultrasound techniques have remained qualitative. The approach presented here is based on ultrasound multiple scattering and exploits the complexity of ultrasound propagation in the lung structure. The experimental setup consisted of a linear transducer array with an 8-MHz central frequency placed in contact with the lung surface. The diffusion constant D and transport mean free path L* of the lung parenchyma were estimated by separating the incoherent and coherent intensities in the near field and measuring the growth of the incoherent diffusive halo over time. Significant differences were observed between the L* values obtained in healthy and edematous rat lungs in vivo. In the control rat lung, L* was found to be 332 μm (±48.8 μm), whereas in the edematous lung, it was 1040 μm (±90 μm). The reproducibility of the measurements of L* and D was tested in vivo and in phantoms made of melamine sponge with varying air volume fractions. Two-dimensional finite difference time domain numerical simulations were carried out on rabbit lung histology images with varying degrees of lung collapse. Significant correlations were observed between air volume fraction and L* in simulation (r = -0.9542, p < 0.0117) and sponge phantom (r = -0.9932, p < 0.0068) experiments. Ex vivo measurements of a rat lung in which edema was simulated by adding phosphate-buffered saline revealed a linear relationship between the fluid volume fraction and L*. These results illustrate the potential of methods based on ultrasound multiple scattering for the quantitative characterization of the lung parenchyma.


Edema; Fibrosis; Interstitial syndrome; Lung parenchyma; Multiple scattering; Quantitative ultrasound

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