Precise scatterer localization for ultrasound contrast imaging
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This thesis is concerned with developing algorithms for the precise localization of ultrasound point scatterers with an eye to super-resolution ultrasound contrast imaging. In medical ultrasound, the conventional resolution is limited by diffraction and, in contrast to other sensing fields, point source imaging has not been extensively investigated. Here, two independent methods were proposed aiming to increase the lateral and the axial resolution respectively, by improving the localization accuracy of a single scatterer. The methods were examined with simulated and experimental data by using standard transmission protocols. Where a technique is applicable to imaging of more complicated structures than point sources, this was also examined. Further, a preliminary study was included with algorithm application to microbubbles that are currently used in contrast enhanced ultrasound. It was demonstrated that it is feasible to translate to ultrasonics, adaptive processes or techniques from optical imaging/astronomy. This way, it was possible to overcome the diffraction limit and achieve sub-wavelength localization. The accuracy gains are subject to many parameters but may reach up to two orders of magnitude, and are based exclusively on array signal processing. The latter is an important advantage since current attempts for super-resolution ultrasound are image-based which is generally undesired.