Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering


James C. Lacefield


Conventional medical ultrasound imaging uses focused beams to scan the imaging scene line-by-line, but recently however, plane-wave imaging, in which plane-waves are used to illuminate the entire imaging scene, has been gaining popularity due its ability to achieve high frame rates, thus allowing the capture of fast dynamic events and producing continuous Doppler data. In most implementations, multiple low-resolution images from different plane wave tilt angles are coherently averaged (compounded) to form a single high-resolution image, albeit with the undesirable side effect of reducing the frame rate, and attenuating signals with high Doppler shifts.

This thesis introduces a spread-spectrum color Doppler imaging method that produces high-resolution images without the use of frame compounding, thereby eliminating the tradeoff between beam quality, frame rate and the unaliased Doppler frequency limit. The method uses a Doppler ensemble formed of a long random sequence of transmit tilt angles that randomize the phase of out-of-cell (clutter) echoes, thereby spreading the clutter power in the Doppler spectrum without compounding, while keeping the spectrum of in-cell echoes intact.

The spread-spectrum method adequately suppresses out-of-cell blood echoes to achieve high spatial resolution, but spread-spectrum suppression is not adequate for wall clutter which may be 60 dB above blood echoes. We thus implemented a clutter filter that re-arranges the ensemble samples such that they follow a linear tilt angle order, thereby compacting the clutter spectrum and spreading that of the blood Doppler signal, and allowing clutter suppression with frequency domain filters. We later improved this filter with a redesign of the random sweep plan such that each tilt angle is repeated multiple times, allowing, after ensemble re-arrangement, the use of comb filters for improved clutter suppression.

Experiments performed using a carotid artery phantom with constant flow demonstrate that the spread-spectrum method more accurately measures the parabolic flow profile of the vessel and outperforms conventional plane-wave Doppler in both contrast resolution and estimation of high flow velocities.

To improve velocity estimation in pulsatile flow, we developed a method that uses the chirped Fourier transform to reduce stationarity broadening during the high acceleration phase of pulsatile flow waveforms. Experimental results showed lower standard deviations compared to conventional intensity-weighted-moving-average methods.

The methods in this thesis are expected to be valuable for Doppler applications that require measurement of high velocities at high frame rates, with high spatial resolution.

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