Applications of Volume Imaging with Matrix Arrays
High-element-count transducers and high-channel-count beamforming have many applications, including the rapid acquisition of a data set for a volume of tissue or material. Whereas conventional ultrasound imaging only acquires information along a single line or plane, matrix arrays enable volume imaging to characterize changes in structural properties or physiological events. For example, the deformation of a structure under stress can be better understood if the visualization is not limited to a single plane. Likewise, quantitative analysis of perfusion within tissue (wash-in, wash-out processes) may require that the entire volume be evaluated. Researchers doing functional imaging want to be able to characterize the blood flow changes throughout the area of interest, not only in a single plane.
Another application is in focused ultrasound for therapy research. Scientists working in the field of HIFU not only want to direct the delivery of energy in multiple planes, but also want to know how the tissues adjacent to the treated tissue are responding to that energy. High channel count arrays, controlled by a high-channel-count system, can facilitate both focused ultrasound for therapy, and conventional imaging for guidance and monitoring.
Finally, there is another potential for high-channel-count systems in the area of aberration correction. With conventional 2D imaging there is often image degradation due to echoes produced by out-of-plane structures. These structures are not visible, but the artifacts they produce can create confusing and misleading information. Current techniques for aberration correction can address artifacts that arise from in-plane structures, but not those from structures that lie out of the scan plane. A matrix array transducer, controlled by a high-channel-count system, provides opportunity for the researcher to detect and mitigate these artifacts.