Medical College of Wisconsin
CTSICores SearchResearch InformaticsREDCap

Evaluation of the impact of backscatter intensity variations on ultrasound attenuation estimation. Med Phys 2013 Aug;40(8):082904



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84881638585 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   10 Citations


PURPOSE: Quantitative ultrasound based approaches such as attenuation slope estimation can be used to determine underlying tissue properties and eventually used as a supplemental diagnostic technique to B-mode imaging. The authors investigate the impact of backscatter intensity and frequency dependence variations on the attenuation slope estimation accuracy.

METHODS: The authors compare three frequency domain based attenuation slope estimation algorithms, namely, a spectral difference method, the reference phantom method, and two spectral shift methods: a hybrid method and centroid downshift method. Both the reference phantom and hybrid method use a tissue-mimicking phantom with well-defined acoustic properties to reduce system dependencies and diffraction effects. The normalized power spectral ratio obtained is then filtered by a Gaussian filter centered at the transmit center frequency in the hybrid method. A spectral shift method is then used to estimate the attenuation coefficient from the normalized and filtered spectrum. The centroid downshift method utilizes the shift in power spectrum toward lower frequencies with depth. Numerical phantoms that incorporate variations in the backscatter intensity from -3 to 3 dB, by varying the scatterer number density and variations in the scatterer diameters ranging from 10 to 100 μm are simulated. Experimental tissue mimicking phantoms with three different scatterer diameter ranges (5-40, 75-90, and 125-150 μm) are also used to evaluate the accuracy of the estimation methods.

RESULTS: The reference phantom method provided accurate results when the acoustical properties of the reference and the sample are well matched. Underestimation occurs when the reference phantom possessed a higher sound speed than the sample, and overestimation occurs when the reference phantom had a lower sound speed than the sample. The centroid downshift method depends significantly on the bandwidth of the power spectrum, which in turn depends on the frequency dependence of the backscattering. The hybrid method was the least susceptible to changes in the sample's acoustic properties and provided the lowest standard deviation in the numerical simulations and experimental evaluations.

CONCLUSIONS: No significant variations in the estimation accuracy of the attenuation coefficient were observed with an increase in the scatterer number density in the simulated numerical phantoms for the three methods. Changes in the scatterer diameters, which result in different frequency dependence of backscatter, do not significantly affect attenuation slope estimation with the reference phantom and hybrid approaches. The centroid method is sensitive to variations in the scatterer diameter due to the frequency shift introduced in the power spectrum.

Author List

Omari EA, Varghese T, Madsen EL, Frank G


Eenas Omari PhD Assistant Professor in the Radiation Oncology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
Phantoms, Imaging