Experimental and computer simulation validation of ultrasound phase interference created by lateral inhomogeneity of transit time in replica bone marrow composite models

Langton, Christian M. & Wille, Marie-Luise (2013) Experimental and computer simulation validation of ultrasound phase interference created by lateral inhomogeneity of transit time in replica bone marrow composite models. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H : Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 227(8), pp. 890-895.

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Purpose: The measurement of broadband ultrasonic attenuation (BUA) in cancellous bone for the assessment of osteoporosis follows a parabolic-type dependence with bone volume fraction; having minima values corresponding to both entire bone and entire marrow. Langton has recently proposed that the primary BUA mechanism may be significant phase interference due to variations in propagation transit time through the test sample as detected over the phase-sensitive surface of the receive ultrasound transducer. This fundamentally simple concept assumes that the propagation of ultrasound through a complex solid : liquid composite sample such as cancellous bone may be considered by an array of parallel ‘sonic rays’.

The transit time of each ray is defined by the proportion of bone and marrow propagated, being a minimum (tmin) solely through bone and a maximum (tmax) solely through marrow. A Transit Time Spectrum (TTS), ranging from tmin to tmax, may be defined describing the proportion of sonic rays having a particular transit time, effectively describing lateral inhomogeneity of transit time over the surface of the receive ultrasound transducer. Phase interference may result from interaction of ‘sonic rays’ of differing transit times. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that there is a dependence of phase interference upon the lateral inhomogenity of transit time by comparing experimental measurements and computer simulation predictions of ultrasound propagation through a range of relatively simplistic solid:liquid models exhibiting a range of lateral inhomogeneities.

Methods: A range of test models was manufactured using acrylic and water as surrogates for bone and marrow respectively. The models varied in thickness in one dimension normal to the direction of propagation, hence exhibiting a range of transit time lateral inhomogeneities, ranging from minimal (single transit time) to maximal (wedge; ultimately the limiting case where each sonic ray has a unique transit time).

For the experimental component of the study, two unfocused 1 MHz ¾” broadband diameter transducers were utilized in transmission mode; ultrasound signals were recorded for each of the models. The computer simulation was performed with Matlab, where the transit time and relative amplitude of each sonic ray was calculated. The transit time for each sonic ray was defined as the sum of transit times through acrylic and water components. The relative amplitude considered the reception area for each sonic ray along with absorption in the acrylic. To replicate phase-sensitive detection, all sonic rays were summed and the output signal plotted in comparison with the experimentally derived output signal.

Results: From qualtitative and quantitative comparison of the experimental and computer simulation results, there is an extremely high degree of agreement of 94.2% to 99.0% between the two approaches, supporting the concept that propagation of an ultrasound wave, for the models considered, may be approximated by a parallel sonic ray model where the transit time of each ray is defined by the proportion of ‘bone’ and ‘marrow’.

Conclusions: This combined experimental and computer simulation study has successfully demonstrated that lateral inhomogeneity of transit time has significant potential for phase interference to occur if a phase-sensitive ultrasound receive transducer is implemented as in most commercial ultrasound bone analysis devices.

Impact and interest:

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4 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 59254
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: ultrasound, phase interference, bone, BUA
DOI: 10.1177/0954411913486079
ISSN: 2041-3033
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING (090300) > Biomedical Engineering not elsewhere classified (090399)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Deposited On: 22 Apr 2013 23:48
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2013 05:10

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