Three-dimensional ultrasound strain imaging of skeletal muscles

Kaj Gijsbertse, Andre M. Sprengers, Maartje Nillesen, Hendrik H.G. Hansen, Nico Verdonschot, Chris L. De Korte

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    Muscle contraction is characterized by large deformation and translation, which requires a multi-dimensional imaging modality to reveal its behavior. Previous work on ultrasound strain imaging of the muscle contraction was limited to 2D and bi-plane techniques. In this study, a three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound strain imaging technique was tested against 2D strain imaging and used for quantifying deformation of skeletal muscles. A phantom compression study was conducted for an experimental validation of both 2D and 3D methods. The phantom was compressed 3% vertically and pre- and post-compression full volume radio frequency (RF) ultrasound data were acquired using a matrix array transducer. A cross-correlation-based algorithm using either 2D or 3D kernels was applied to obtain the displacement estimates. These estimates were converted to Cartesian space and subsequently, strain was derived using a least-squares strain estimator (LSQSE). The 3D results were compared with the 2D results and the theoretically predicted displacement and strain. Comparison between 2D and 3D kernels was performed on data from a plane with a large tilt angle to study the influence of out-of-plane motion on the two techniques. To demonstrate the in vivo feasibility, 3D strain was calculated from live 3D data, acquired during a 2 second isometric contraction and relaxation of the quadriceps muscle in a healthy volunteer. The phantom study showed good correlation between estimated displacements and the theoretically predicted displacements. Root-mean-squared errors (RMSE) were 0.16, 0.17 and 0.13 mm in the x-, y- and z-direction respectively. The absolute RMSE for the 3D strain values were 0.94, 1.2 and 0.41% in the x-, y- and z-direction respectively. The 2D method performed worse, with 3 (x-direction) to 6 (z-direction) times higher RMSE values. The larger errors in lateral and elevational direction with respect to the axial RMSE are potentially caused by the large angle between the ultrasound beams. Initial in vivo results revealed 3D strain curves which clearly visualized the contraction and relaxation of the quadriceps muscles. Muscle deformation estimation using real-time 3D ultrasound RF-data seems feasible and the use of 3D kernels improves displacement estimation in comparison to 2D techniques. Future work will focus on improving lateral and elevational displacement estimation, and investigating local differences of strain in skeletal muscles and its clinical relevance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication2015 IEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium, IUS 2015
    ISBN (Electronic)9781479981823
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2015
    EventIEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium 2015 - Taipei, Taiwan
    Duration: 21 Oct 201524 Oct 2015


    ConferenceIEEE International Ultrasonics Symposium 2015
    Abbreviated titleIUS 2015
    Internet address


    • 3D
    • out-of-plane motion
    • skeletal muscle
    • strain

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