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Ultrasound Med Biol. 1997;23(3):321-45.

Color flow mapping.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22908, USA.


Color flow mapping systems have become widely used in the short time since their development. These systems overlay a pseudo-color velocity map upon the gray-scale two-dimensional image. Between 4 and 16 pulses are directed to each line-of-sight, and this requirement reduces the frame rate in comparison with the gray-scale image. Other limitations of color flow mapping include its ability to estimate only the velocity toward or away from the transducer and an increase in the variance in comparison with spectral Doppler. Potential artifacts include aliased velocities and the detection of flow in hypoechoic or hyperechoic nonvascular structures. Clinical applications include cardiology, studies of the abdominal and peripheral vasculature, evaluation of organ perfusion and the differentiation of tumors. Most current systems use narrowband estimators that examine a fixed sample volume and detect a change in phase between two pulses. Wideband estimators that can track red blood cells in two or three dimensions are under evaluation. Narrowband estimators, including the autocorrelator, the short Fourier transform and second order autoregressive filters, are compared with wideband estimators including cross-correlation, sum-absolute-difference and the wideband maximum likelihood estimator. Because the intensity of blood echoes is far smaller than echoes from surrounding tissue, high pass filters have been developed that can reject the larger signal from tissue using the return from a small number of pulses. Other areas of research include strategies for flow estimation with contrast agents, three-dimensional color flow mapping and power Doppler flow mapping.

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