Blood Flow Imaging in the Neonatal Brain Using Angular Coherence Power Doppler


Using ultrasound to image small vessels in the neonatal brain can be difficult in the presence of strong clutter from the surrounding tissue and with a neonate motion during the scan. We propose a coherence-based beamforming method, namely the short-lag angular coherence (SLAC) beamforming that suppresses incoherent noise and motion artifacts in Ultrafast data, and we demonstrate its applicability to improve detection of blood flow in the neonatal brain. Instead of estimating spatial coherence across the receive elements, SLAC utilizes the principle of acoustic reciprocity to estimate angular coherence from the beam-summed signals from different plane-wave transmits, which makes it computationally efficient and amenable to advanced beamforming techniques, such as f-k migration. The SLAC images of a simulated speckle phantom show similar edge resolution and texture size as the matching B-mode images, and reduced random noise in the background. We apply SLAC power Doppler (PD) to free-hand imaging of neonatal brain vasculature with long Doppler ensembles and show that: 1) it improves visualization of small vessels in the cortex compared to conventional PD and 2) it can be used for tracking of blood flow in the brain over time, meaning it could potentially improve the quality of free-hand functional ultrasound.



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