The improvement and quantitative assessment of B-mode images produced by an annular array/cone hybrid.
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Hybrid ultrasound imaging systems, which combine spherical focusing on transmit with axicon focusing on receive, provide excellent resolution over a useful depth of field. This paper presents a new hybrid design with improved sensitivity, in which the axicon focusing is achieved by two conical mirrors and a PZT 5A disk out into 8 sectors. We have investigated two methods of processing the signals from the 8 sectors. In the first, phase insensitive sector addition (PISA), the B-scan is formed from the sum of the 8 demodulated signals. In the second, multiplicative processing (MP), the 8 rf waveforms are multiplied and the resultant is demodulated to form the image. Both techniques result in smoothed speckle but degraded lateral resolution. As well, MP decreases the off-axis sensitivity of the system and artifacts characteristic of axicon focusing. Quantitative assessment of the effects of PISA and MP was performed using a new approach called contrast-to-speckle ratio (CSR). The CSR data, which is a measure of the image contrast of cylindrical voids in a random scattering medium relative to contrast fluctuations due to speckle, shows the superiority of PISA and MP. This conclusion is supported by images of in vitro human breast tissue.
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