This dissertation describes ultrasound algorithms developed for synthetic transmit aperture (STA) imaging during the transmission and the image reconstruction stages. Images generated using these algorithms demonstrate image quality enhancement both theoretically and experimentally. The advanced algorithms also improve the application of STA imaging.
Due to the single element transmission pattern, the low signal-to-noise ratio is a major limitation for STA imaging. A delay-encoded transmission scheme (DE-STA) was designed in this dissertation to encode all the transmissions. The decoded RF signals were equivalent to the standard STA signals, but with a higher SNR. Improved image qualities were observed under DE-STA transmission in terms of lateral resolution (+28%), peak-signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR, +7 dB) and target contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR, +360%) compared to those acquired with the standard STA mode.
The stability of DE-STA was analyzed and verified under various noise levels by the special distribution of the singular values of the encoding matrix through singular value decomposition (SVD) (i.e. all the singular values were the same except for the first one and the last one). A more efficient decoding process was also derived based on pseudo-inversion (PI) and the computation complexity was reduced by 2/3.
Speckle and undesired sidelobe signals can reduce the lesion CNR and detectability in ultrasound images. Typically, the CNR can be increased by spatial compounding (SC) or frequency compounding (FC) during reconstruction. We proposed methods to implement a 2-dimentional (2-D) aperture domain filter in the SC/FC processes, referred to as filtered spatial compounding (FSC) and filtered frequency compounding (FFC), for synthetic transmit aperture (STA) imaging. Both techniques reduced the sidelobe interference and provided improved lesion CNR. Consequently, the lesion signal-to-noise ratio (lSNR) in FSC and FFC increased (up to +130%), compared to that in the standard delay-and-sum (DAS) method.
This dissertation investigates all these proposed advanced ultrasound algorithms, with the end goal of implementing these methods in STA imaging to extend its application in clinic.