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Journal: Ultrasound in medicine & biology


In recent studies, both tumor morphology and vascularity played an important role in differentiating breast tumors. In this article, a computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system was proposed to quantify the tumor morphology of vascularity on three-dimensional (3-D) power Doppler breast ultrasound (PDUS) images. We segmented the tumor margin by the level set method and skeletonized vessels by the 3-D thinning algorithm from 3-D PDUS data to capture the B-mode and vascularity features. The B-mode features including texture, shape and ellipsoid fitting and the vascularity features containing volume, complexity, length, radius and tortuosity were used to differentiate breast tumors. In the experiment, 82 biopsy-verified lesions including 41 benign and 41 malignant lesions were used to test the performance of the proposed system. The proposed method performed well, achieving accuracy, sensitivity, specificity and Az values of 85.37% (70/82), 85.37% (35/41), 85.37% (35/41) and 0.9104, respectively.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Oncology, Brain tumor, Benign tumor, Tumor, Neoplasm, Level set method


This article is the first clinical investigation of the quantitative left atrial (LA) vortex flow by two-dimensional (2-D) transesophageal contrast echocardiography (2-D-TECE) using vector particle image velocimetry (PIV). The aims of this study were to assess the feasibility of LA vortex flow analysis and to characterize and quantify the LA vortex flow in controls and in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Thirty-five controls and 30 patients with AF underwent transesophageal contrast echocardiography. The velocity vector was estimated by particle image velocimetry. The morphology and pulsatility of the LA vortex flow were compared between the control and AF groups. In all patients, quantitative LA vortex flow analysis was feasible. In the control group, multiple, pulsatile, compact and elliptical-shaped vortices were seen in the periphery of the LA. These vortices were persistently maintained and vectors were directed toward the atrioventricular inflow. In the AF group, a large, merged, lower pulsatile and round-shaped vortex was observed in the center of the LA. In comparisons of vortex parameters, the relative strength was significantly lower in the AF group (1.624 ± 0.501 vs. 2.105 ± 0.226, p < 0.001). It is feasible to characterize and quantify the LA vortex flow by transesophageal contrast echocardiography in patients with AF, which offers a new method to obtain additional information on LA hemodynamics. The approach has the potential for early detection of the LA dysfunction and in decisions regarding treatment strategy and guiding anticoagulation treatment in patients with AF.

Concepts: Scientific method, Fluid dynamics, Atrial fibrillation, Dimension, Vector space, Particle image velocimetry, Vortex, Relative velocity


The temperature dependence of an agar/gelatin phantom was evaluated. The purpose was to predict the material property response to high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) for developing ultrasound guided dosing and targeting feedback. Changes in attenuation, sound speed, shear modulus and thermal properties with temperature were examined from 20°C to 70°C for 3 weeks post-manufacture. The attenuation decreased with temperature by a power factor of 0.15. Thermal conductivity, diffusivity and specific heat all increased linearly with temperature for a total change of approximately 16%, 10% and 6%, respectively. Sound speed had a parabolic dependence on temperature similar to that of water. Initially, the shear modulus irreversibly declined with even a slight increase in temperature. Over time, the gel maintained its room temperature shear modulus with moderate heating. A stable phantom was achieved within 2 weeks post-manufacture that possessed quasi-reversible material properties up to nearly 55°C.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Thermodynamics, Heat, Materials science, Physical quantities, Thermal conductivity, Electrical conductivity, Young's modulus


All previously documented regional anesthesia procedures for carotid artery surgery routinely require additional local infiltration or systemic supplementation with opioids to achieve satisfactory analgesia because of the complex innervation of the surgical site. Here, we report a reliable ultrasound-guided anesthesia method for carotid artery surgery. High-resolution ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia using a 12.5-MHz linear ultrasound transducer was performed in 34 patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy. Anesthesia consisted of perivascular regional anesthesia of the internal carotid artery and intermediate cervical plexus block. The internal carotid artery and the nerves of the superficial cervical plexus were identified, and a needle was placed dorsal to the internal carotid artery and directed cranially to the carotid bifurcation under ultrasound visualization. After careful aspiration, local anesthetic was spread around the internal carotid artery and the carotid bifurcation. In the second step, local anesthetic was injected below the sternocleidomastoid muscle along the previously identified nerves of the intermediate cervical plexus. The necessity for intra-operative supplementation and the conversion rate to general anesthesia were recorded. Ultrasonic visualization of the region of interest was possible in all cases. Needle direction was successful in all cases. Three to five milliliters of 0.5% ropivacaine produced satisfactory spread around the carotid bifurcation. For intermediate cervical plexus block, 10 to 20 mL of 0.5% ropivacaine produced sufficient intra-operative analgesia. Conversion to general anesthesia because of an incomplete block was not necessary. Five cases required additional local infiltration with 1% prilocaine (2-6 mL) by the surgeon. Visualization with high-resolution ultrasound yields safe and accurate performance of the block. Because of the low rate of intra-operative supplementation, we conclude that the described ultrasound-guided perivascular anesthesia technique is effective for carotid artery surgery.

Concepts: Anesthesia, Local anesthesia, Internal carotid artery, Common carotid artery, External carotid artery, Internal jugular vein, Local anesthetic, Cervical plexus


An optically transparent tissue-mimicking ™ phantom whose acoustic properties are close to those of tissue was constructed for visualizing therapeutic effects by high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU). The TM phantom was designed to improve a widely used standard bovine serum albumin (BSA) polyacrylamide hydrogel (PAG), which attenuated ultrasound far less than tissue and, unlike tissue, did not scatter ultrasound. A modified recipe has been proposed in the study by adding scattering glass beads with diameters of 40-80 μm (0.002% w/v) and by raising the concentration of acrylamide (30% v/v). The TM BSA-PAG constructed has an acoustic impedance of 1.67 MRayls, a speed of sound of 1576 m/s, an attenuation coefficient of 0.52 dB/cm at 1 MHz, a backscattering coefficient of 0.242 × 10(-3) 1/sr/cm at 1 MHz and a nonlinear parameter (B/A) of 5.7. These parameters are close to those of liver. The thermal and optical properties are almost the same as the standard BSA-PAG. The characteristic features of the thermal lesions by HIFU were observed to be more accurately visualized in the TM BSA-PAG than in the standard BSA-PAG. In conclusion, the proposed TM BSA-PAG acoustically mimics tissue better than the standard BSA-PAG and is expected to be preferentially used for assuring if a clinical HIFU device produces the thermal lesion as planned.

Concepts: Optics, Optical fiber, Serum albumin, Acoustics, Bovine serum albumin, Sound, Attenuation, Polyacrylamide


Because many tumors possess blood vessels permeable to particles with diameters of 200 nm, it is possible that submicron perfluorocarbon droplets could constitute a novel extravascular ultrasound contrast agent capable of selectively enhancing tumors. Under exposure to bursts of ultrasound of sufficient rarefactional pressure, droplets can undergo vaporization to form echogenic microbubbles. In this study, phase-change thresholds of 220-nm-diameter droplets composed of perfluoropentane were studied in polyacrylamide gel phantoms maintained at temperatures of 21-37°C, exposed to high-pressure bursts of ultrasound with frequencies ranging from 5-15 MHz and durations of 1 μs to 1 ms. The thresholds were found to depend inversely and significantly (p < 0.001) on ultrasound frequency, pulse duration, and droplet temperature, ranging from 9.4 ± 0.8 MPa at 29°C for a 1-μs burst at 5 MHz to 3.2 ± 0.5 MPa at 37°C for a 1-ms burst at 15 MHz. The diameters of microbubbles formed from droplets decreased significantly as phantom stiffness increased (p < 0.0001), and were independent of pulse duration, although substantially more droplets were converted to microbubbles for 1-ms pulse durations compared with briefer exposures. In vivo experiments in a mouse tumor model demonstrated that intravenously injected droplets can be converted into highly echogenic microbubbles 1 h after administration.

Concepts: Cancer, Medical imaging, Liquid, Acoustics, Ultrasound, Frequency, Hertz, Contrast-enhanced ultrasound


A recipe was created to improve the tissue-mimicking ™ bovine serum albumin (BSA) polyacrylamide hydrogel (PAG) reported in our previous study (Choi MJ, Guntur SR, Lee KI, Paeng DG, Coleman AJ. Ultrasound Med Biol 2013; 29:439-448). In that work, the concentration of acrylamide in TM BSA PAG was increased to make its attenuation coefficient the same as that of a tissue. However, this increase made the PAG stiffer and less homogeneous. In addition, the increase in acrylamide caused a significant increase in temperature over the denaturation threshold of BSA during polymerization, which required forced cooling so that the PAG did not become opaque at room temperature after polymerization. To eliminate those shortcomings, we substituted the increased acrylamide with a viscous polysaccharide liquid (corn syrup). The concentration of corn syrup was optimized to 20% (w/v, tested in the volume of 50 mL), so that the acoustic properties of the PAG would be close to those of human liver. The improved TM (iTM) BSA PAG constructed in this study had a speed of sound of 1588 ± 9 m/s, an attenuation coefficient of 0.51 ± 0.06 dB cm(-1) at 1 MHz and a backscattering coefficient of 0.22 ± 0.09 × 10(-3) sr(-1) cm(-1) MHz(-1). The density and acoustic impedance were 1057 kg/m(3) and 1.68 MRayl, respectively, and the non-linear parameter (B/A) was 5.9 ± 0.3. The thermal, optical and mechanical properties were almost the same as those of the BSA PAG (Lafon et al.2005). Experimental verification indicated that the thermal lesions visualized in the proposed iTM BSA PAG by high-intensity focused ultrasound were highly reproducible. In conclusion, iTM BSA PAG was proven to eliminate TM BSA PAG shortcomings effectively and is expected to be a promising test phantom for clinical high-intensity focused ultrasound device.

Concepts: Liver, Starch, Serum albumin, Acoustics, Bovine serum albumin, Solution, Corn syrup, Polyacrylamide


Pancreatic cancer may present as a peri-arterial soft tissue cuff (PSTC) around the superior mesenteric artery or celiac axis without an identifiable pancreatic mass. We evaluated the diagnostic yield of endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) in patients with a PSTC without definite pancreas involvement and those with a typical pancreatic mass. The patients who underwent EUS-FNA of a PSTC without pancreatic involvement were prospectively enrolled. The patients who underwent EUS-FNA for a pancreatic mass were recruited as a control group. A total of 224 patients underwent 247 EUS-FNAs. Among the 13 patients with a PSTC, 11 were positive for malignancy as determined by EUS-FNA, with 5 diagnosed after the first session and 6 after the second session. The diagnostic yield of PSTCs by EUS-FNA was significantly lower than that for typical pancreatic masses (65% vs. 87%, p = 0.02). An on-site cytopathologist and repeated EUS-FNA are recommended to improve the diagnostic accuracy of this disease entity.

Concepts: Cancer, Biopsy, Pathology, Medical tests, Needle aspiration biopsy, Pancreatic cancer, Superior mesenteric artery, Celiac artery


Functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging by ultrasensitive Doppler detection of blood volume was previously reported to measure adult rat brain activation and functional connectivity with unmatched spatiotemporal sampling (100 μm, 1 ms), but skull-induced attenuation of ultrasonic waves imposed skull surgery or contrast agent use. Also, fUS feasibility remains to be validated in mice, a major pre-clinical model organism. In the study described here, we performed full-depth ultrasensitive Doppler imaging and 3-D Doppler tomography of the entire mouse brain under anesthesia, non-invasively through the intact skull and skin, without contrast agents. Similar results were obtained in anesthetized young rats up to postnatal day 35, thus enabling longitudinal studies on postnatal brain development. Using a newly developed ultralight ultrasonic probe and an optimized ultrasonic sequence, we also performed minimally invasive full-transcranial fUS imaging of brain vasculature and whisker stimulation-induced barrel cortex activation in awake and freely moving mice, validating transcranial fUS for brain imaging, without anesthesia-induced bias, for behavioral studies.

Concepts: Brain, Surgery, Medical imaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Ultrasound, Rat, Mouse, Contrast medium


The purpose of the study described here was to showcase the application of ultrasound to quantitative characterization of the micro-architecture of the lung parenchyma to predict the extent of pulmonary edema. The lung parenchyma is a highly complex and diffusive medium for which ultrasound techniques have remained qualitative. The approach presented here is based on ultrasound multiple scattering and exploits the complexity of ultrasound propagation in the lung structure. The experimental setup consisted of a linear transducer array with an 8-MHz central frequency placed in contact with the lung surface. The diffusion constant D and transport mean free path L* of the lung parenchyma were estimated by separating the incoherent and coherent intensities in the near field and measuring the growth of the incoherent diffusive halo over time. Significant differences were observed between the L* values obtained in healthy and edematous rat lungs in vivo. In the control rat lung, L* was found to be 332 μm (±48.8 μm), whereas in the edematous lung, it was 1040 μm (±90 μm). The reproducibility of the measurements of L* and D was tested in vivo and in phantoms made of melamine sponge with varying air volume fractions. Two-dimensional finite difference time domain numerical simulations were carried out on rabbit lung histology images with varying degrees of lung collapse. Significant correlations were observed between air volume fraction and L* in simulation (r = -0.9542, p < 0.0117) and sponge phantom (r = -0.9932, p < 0.0068) experiments. Ex vivo measurements of a rat lung in which edema was simulated by adding phosphate-buffered saline revealed a linear relationship between the fluid volume fraction and L*. These results illustrate the potential of methods based on ultrasound multiple scattering for the quantitative characterization of the lung parenchyma.

Concepts: Scientific method, Lung, Diffusion, Simulation, Pneumothorax, Parenchyma, Edema, Scattering theory