Evaluation of Nonlinear Contrast Pulse Sequencing for Use in Super-Resolution Ultrasound Imaging

Katherine G. Brown, Kenneth Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The use of super-resolution ultrasound (SR-US) imaging greatly improves visualization of microvascular structures, but clinical adoption is limited by long imaging times. This method depends on detecting and localizing isolated microbubbles (MBs), forcing the use of a dilute contrast agent concentration. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) image acquisition times as long as minutes arise as the localization of thousands of MBs are acquired to form a complete SR-US image. In this article, we explore the use of nonlinear CEUS strategies using nonlinear fundamental contrast pulse sequencing (CPS) to increase the contrast-to-tissue ratio (CTR) and compare MB detection effectiveness to linear B-mode CEUS imaging. The CPS compositions of amplitude modulation (AM), pulse inversion (PI), and a combination of the two (AMPI) were studied. A simulation study combined the Rayleigh-Plesset-Marmottant (RPM) model of MB characteristics and a nonlinear tissue model using the k-Wave toolbox for MATLAB (MathWorks Inc., Natick, MA, USA). Validation was conducted using an in vitro flow phantom and in vivo in the rat hind-limb. Imaging was performed with a programmable US scanner (Vantage 256, Verasonics Inc., Kirkland, WA, USA) and customized to transmit a set of basis US pulses from which both B-mode US (frame rate (FR) of 800 Hz) and multiple nonlinear CPS compositions (FR of 200 Hz) could be assessed from identical in vitro and in vivo datasets using a near simultaneous method. The simulations suggest that MB characteristics, such as diameter and motion, help to predict which US imaging strategy will enhance MB detection. The in vitro and in vivo US imaging studies revealed that different subpopulations of polydisperse MB contrast agents were detected by linear imaging and by each different nonlinear CPS composition. The most effective single imaging strategy at a 200-Hz FR was found to be B-mode US imaging. However, a combination of B-mode US imaging with a nonlinear CPS imaging strategy was more effective in detecting MBs in vivo at all depths and was shown to shorten image acquisition time by an average of 33.3%-76.7% when combining one or more CPS sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3347-3361
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Contrast agents
  • US imaging
  • contrast pulse sequencing (CPS)
  • microbubbles (MBs)
  • nonlinear ultrasound (US) imaging
  • super-resolution ultrasound (SR-US)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of Nonlinear Contrast Pulse Sequencing for Use in Super-Resolution Ultrasound Imaging'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this