Super-Resolved Microbubble Localization in Single-Channel Ultrasound RF Signals Using Deep Learning

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Recently, super-resolution ultrasound imaging with ultrasound localization microscopy (ULM) has received much attention. However, ULM relies on low concentrations of microbubbles in the blood vessels, ultimately resulting in long acquisition times. Here, we present an alternative super-resolution approach, based on direct deconvolution of single-channel ultrasound radio-frequency (RF) signals with a one-dimensional dilated convolutional neural network (CNN). This work focuses on low-frequency ultrasound (1.7 MHz) for deep imaging (10 cm) of a dense cloud of monodisperse microbubbles (up to 1000 microbubbles in the measurement volume, corresponding to an average echo overlap of 94%). Data are generated with a simulator that uses a large range of acoustic pressures (5-250 kPa) and captures the full, nonlinear response of resonant, lipid-coated microbubbles. The network is trained with a novel dual-loss function, which features elements of both a classification loss and a regression loss and improves the detection-localization characteristics of the output. Whereas imposing a localization tolerance of 0 yields poor detection metrics, imposing a localization tolerance corresponding to 4% of the wavelength yields a precision and recall of both 0.90. Furthermore, the detection improves with increasing acoustic pressure and deteriorates with increasing microbubble density. The potential of the presented approach to super-resolution ultrasound imaging is demonstrated with a delay-and-sum reconstruction with deconvolved element data. The resulting image shows an order-of-magnitude gain in axial resolution compared to a delay-and-sum reconstruction with unprocessed element data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2532-2542
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE transactions on medical imaging
Issue number9
Early online date11 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Acoustics
  • Convolutional neural network
  • deep-learning
  • High-density contrast sources
  • Location awareness
  • Low-frequency ultrasound
  • Monodisperse microbubbles
  • Radio frequency
  • RF signals
  • Ssuper-resolution ultrasound
  • Superresolution
  • Transducers
  • Ultrasonic imaging
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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