Development of acoustic tissue mimicking materials for preclinical ultrasound imaging applications
Rabell Montiel, Adela
MetadataShow full item record
Many applications of ultrasound test phantoms require that the acoustical properties of the phantom should closely match those of soft tissue. Numerous commercial test phantoms of this type are available for use with clinical ultrasound scanners, which use frequencies up to 20 MHz. However, scanners designed for imaging small animals in preclinical studies, typically operate at much higher frequencies. No commercially available test phantoms exist for use at frequencies above 20 MHz. The aim of this work was to develop a tissue-mimicking-material (TMM) that closely matches the acoustic properties of small animal tissues at high frequencies (HF). Such a material would, therefore, be suitable for ultrasound test phantoms for application with HF ultrasound scanners (20 MHz to 50 MHz). A three-step approach was adopted to address this lack of a suitable HF-TMM. Firstly, verify the acoustic characteristics of the existing IEC agar-based TMM. Secondly, establish the acoustic properties (speed of sound and attenuation coefficient) of small animal tissue at high frequencies. Thirdly, develop a TMM which exhibits, as closely as possible, these small animal tissue acoustic characteristics. A pulse-echo substitution method was used throughout to characterise the materials and the tissue samples. The speed of sound and attenuation coefficient of an IEC agar-based TMM were measured using two different techniques. Initially, a widely used method was tried, where samples are wrapped in film and placed in degassed, deionised water for assessment. The second technique was developed and validated for use in this work. In this method, TMM samples were uncovered (without film) and were both stored and assessed in a TMM preserving fluid. The second method provided up to four times more consistent results. The acoustical properties of the individual components of the IEC agar-based TMM were then measured in order to determine whether the overall attenuation coefficient of the agar TMM was a linear sum of the attenuation coefficients of its component parts. Within experimental uncertainties, this was found to be the case. This is a key observation from which the formulation of an agar TMM, matching the acoustic properties of small animal tissue, can be facilitated. The acoustical properties (speed of sound and attenuation coefficient) of mouse brain, liver, and kidney were measured using a preclinical ultrasound scanner.