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Resolution enhancement in medical ultrasound imaging

Marie Ploquin 1 Adrian Basarab 1 Denis Kouamé 1
1 IRIT-TCI - Traitement et Compréhension d’Images
IRIT - Institut de recherche en informatique de Toulouse
Abstract : Image resolution enhancement is a problem of considerable interest in all medical imaging modalities. Unlike general purpose imaging or video processing, for a very long time, medical image resolution enhancement has been based on optimization of the imaging devices. Although some recent works purport to deal with image postprocessing, much remains to be done regarding medical image enhancement via postprocessing, especially in ultrasound imaging. We face a resolution improvement issue in the case of medical ultrasound imaging. We propose to investigate this problem using multidimensional autoregressive (AR) models. Noting that the estimation of the envelope of an ultrasound radio frequency (RF) signal is very similar to the estimation of classical Fourier-based power spectrum estimation, we theoretically show that a domain change and a multidimensional AR model can be used to achieve super-resolution in ultrasound imaging provided the order is estimated correctly. Here, this is done by means of a technique that simultaneously estimates the order and the parameters of a multidimensional model using relevant regression matrix factorization. Doing so, the proposed method specifically fits ultrasound imaging and provides an estimated envelope. Moreover, an expression that links the theoretical image resolution to both the image acquisition features (such as the point spread function) and a postprocessing feature (the AR model) order is derived. The overall contribution of this work is threefold. First, it allows for automatic resolution improvement. Through a simple model and without any specific manual algorithmic parameter tuning, as is used in common methods, the proposed technique simply and exclusively uses the ultrasound RF signal as input and provides the improved B-mode as output. Second, it allows for the a priori prediction of the improvement in resolution via the knowledge of the parametric model order before actual processing. Finally, to achieve the previous goal, while classical parametric methods would first estimate the model order and then the model parameters, our approach estimates the model parameters and the order simultaneously. The effectiveness of the methodology is validated using two-dimensional synthetic and in vivo data. We show that, compared to other techniques, our method provides better results from a qualitative and a quantitative viewpoint.
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Marie Ploquin, Adrian Basarab, Denis Kouamé. Resolution enhancement in medical ultrasound imaging. Journal of Medical Imaging, SPIE Digital Library, 2015, 2 (1), pp.1-12. ⟨10.1117/1.JMI.2.1.017001⟩. ⟨hal-01387815⟩

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