News Column

Patent Issued for Methods and Apparatus for Ultrasound Imaging

July 21, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Cardiovascular Week -- A patent by the inventor Tamura, Tadashi (North Haven, CT), filed on October 29, 2007, was published online on July 8, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by NewsRx correspondents (see also Hitachi Aloka Medical, Ltd.).

Patent number 8771190 is assigned to Hitachi Aloka Medical, Ltd. (Tokyo, JP).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The invention relates generally to the field of ultrasound imaging. More specifically, embodiments of the invention relate to methods and systems for reducing noise when imaging blood vessels.

"Ultrasound is used to image various internal body structures such as organs like the heart and liver, blood vessels, and fetuses in pregnant women. B-mode imaging is a technique used to image blood vessels. In a vessel, blood generally exhibits lower echo power than vessel walls or surrounding tissues do, resulting in high contrast. The surface layer of vessel walls, or intima, is of particular interest in diagnosing cardiovascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis, stenosis or coronary blockages. The thickness of the intima is typically measured and is used in diagnosis. However, due to various causes, clutter noise usually appears in the lumen of blood vessels which makes the intima thickness measurement difficult.

"There is a need to reduce noise present in blood vessel images."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, NewsRx journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "The inventor has discovered that it would be desirable to have a system and method that uses blood flow information to reduce clutter noise in blood vessel B-mode images.

"One aspect of the invention provides a method to suppress clutter noise manifest by returned ultrasound signals when imaging blood vessels by transmitting ultrasound signals to and receiving ultrasound signals from the blood vessels several times per position. The method includes processing the returned ultrasound image signals to produce a B-mode image output, demodulating the returned ultrasound signals to produce Doppler signals, wall filtering the Doppler signals to only pass the flow components of the signals, calculating a flow component parameter (e.g. amplitude a, power a.sup.2, power raised to a power a.sup.b and a combination of these values), generating a gain control signal .alpha. based on the flow component parameter, and controlling the output of the B-mode image processor with the gain control signal .alpha. wherein noise manifest in the B-mode image processor output is suppressed.

"Another aspect of the invention provides a method to suppress clutter noise manifest by returned ultrasound signals when imaging blood vessels by transmitting ultrasound signals to and receiving ultrasound signals from the blood vessels several times per position. Methods according to this aspect of the invention include processing the returned ultrasound image signals to produce a B-mode image output, wall filtering the returned ultrasound image signals to only pass the flow components of the signals, calculating a flow component parameter (e.g. amplitude c, power c.sup.2, power raised to a power c.sup.b and a combination of these values), generating a gain control signal .alpha. based on the flow component parameter, and controlling the output of the B-mode image processor with the gain control signal .alpha. wherein noise manifest in the B-mode image processor output is suppressed.

"Another aspect of the invention provides a system for suppressing clutter noise manifest by returned ultrasound signals when imaging blood vessels by transmitting ultrasound signals to and receiving ultrasound signals from the blood vessels several times per position. Systems according to this aspect of the invention include a receiver configured to receive the returned ultrasound image signals and output received signals, a B-mode image processor coupled to the receiver configured to output a B-mode processed image from the received signals, a Doppler flow detector coupled to the receiver configured to demodulate the returned ultrasound image signals to produce Doppler signals and having a wall filter configured to filter the Doppler signals and output only flow components of the Doppler signals, a gain control generator coupled to the Doppler flow detector configured to calculate a flow component parameter (e.g. amplitude a, power a.sup.2, power raised to a power a.sup.b and a combination of these values)and generate a gain control signal .alpha. based on the flow components, and a signal combiner coupled to the gain control generator and the B-mode image processor, the signal combiner configured to modify the B-mode processed image output with the gain control signal .alpha. wherein noise manifest in the B-mode processed image is suppressed.

"Another aspect of the invention provides a system for suppressing clutter noise manifest by returned ultrasound signals when imaging blood vessels by transmitting ultrasound signals to and receiving ultrasound signals from the blood vessels several times per position. Systems according to this aspect of the invention include a receiver configured to receive the returned ultrasound image signals and output received signals, a B-mode image processor coupled to the receiver configured to output a B-mode processed image from the received signals, an RF flow detector coupled to the receiver, the flow detector having a wall filter configured to filter the returned ultrasound RF signals and output only flow components of the received signals, a gain control generator coupled to the RF flow detector configured to calculate a flow component parameter (e.g. amplitude c, power c.sup.2, power raised to a power c.sup.b and a combination of these values)and generate a gain control signal .alpha. based on the flow components, and a signal combiner coupled to the gain control generator and the B-mode image processor, the signal combiner configured to modify the B-mode processed image output with the gain control signal .alpha. wherein noise manifest in the B-mode processed image is suppressed.

"The details of one or more embodiments of the invention are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features, objects, and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Tamura, Tadashi. Methods and Apparatus for Ultrasound Imaging. U.S. Patent Number 8771190, filed October 29, 2007, and published online on July 8, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8771190.PN.&OS=PN/8771190RS=PN/8771190

Keywords for this news article include: Angiology, Blood Vessels, Cardiovascular System, Hitachi Aloka Medical Ltd.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


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Source: Cardiovascular Week


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