Wideband harmonic imaging: A novel contrast ultrasound imaging technique
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A novel ultrasonic imaging method, wideband harmonic imaging, for nonlinear imaging of microbubble contrast agents is evaluated. In wideband harmonic mode, two pulses of alternate phase are send out. The image is then processed from the sum of both pulses, resulting in an image of nonlinear scatterers such as microbubbles. A prototype ultrasound system, Siemens Elegra, was evaluated with in vitro investigations and animal trials, using conventional, harmonic and wideband harmonic settings with the galactose based ultrasound contrast agent Levovist. Wideband harmonic imaging offers superior sensitivity for ultrasound contrast agents compared to conventional imaging and harmonic imaging. At low transmit power settings (MI 0.1–0.5) the nonlinear response is already sufficient to generate a image of the blood pool distribution of Levovist in the rabbit kidney including the microvasculature, with clear delineation of vessels and perfused parenchyma. At high transmit amplitudes, nonlinear tissue response reduced the apparent image contrast between contrast agent and tissue. The results suggest that wideband harmonic imaging is currently the most sensitive contrast imaging technique, maintaining highest spatial resolution. This may add to image quality and offer new clinical potential for the use of ultrasound contrast agents such as Levovist.