In ultrasound elastography, plane-wave acquisitions and angular displacement compounding (ADC) are often used and combined to allow high frame rates and to improve accuracy of lateral displacement estimates, respectively. This study investigates the performance of displacement and strain estimation for ADC as a function of; the main-to-grating-lobe-amplitude ratio which decreases as a function of steering angle; plane-wave acquisition and Delay-and-Sum (DaS)-related parameters; and grating-lobe filter cut-off frequency. Three experiments were conducted with a block phantom to test ADC performance for displacement fields of varying complexity: a lateral transducer shift, phantom rotation and phantom deformation. Experiments were repeated for four linear array transducers (pitch-to-lambda ratios between 0.6 and 1.4). Best ADC performance was found for steering angles that resulted in a theoretically derived main-to-grating-lobe-amplitude ratio of 1.7 dB for pure lateral translation and 6 dB for predominately lateral strain or rotation. Temporal filtering to reduce grating lobe signal or shifting of the receive aperture to receive angles below or above the optimal angle, as dictated by the main-to-grating-lobe-amplitude ratio, did not improve results. The accuracy of lateral displacement and strain estimates was improved by apodization in transmission and a dedicated F-number in DaS (0.75) allowing incidence angles within 33 in the active aperture. ADC with the optimized settings as found in this study improves the accuracy of displacements and strain estimates up to 80.7% compared to non-ADC. Compared to ADC settings described in current literature, our optimization improved the accuracy by 11.9% to 75.3% for lateral displacement and strain, and by 89.3% to 96.2% for rotation. The accuracy of ADC in rotation seemed to depend highly on plane-wave and DaS-related parameters which may explain the major improvement compared to settings in current literature. The overall improvement by optimized ADC was statistically significant compared to non-ADC (p = 0.003) and literature (p = 0.002).
- grating lobe