Indexed on: 12 Mar '13Published on: 12 Mar '13Published in: Physics in medicine and biology
Cancer detection and classification have been the focus of many imaging and therapeutic research studies. Elastography is a non-invasive technique to visualize suspicious soft tissue areas where tissue stiffness is used as image contrast mechanism. In this study, a breast ultrasound elastography system including software and hardware is proposed. Unlike current elastography systems that image the tissue strain and present it as an approximation to relative tissue stiffness, this system is capable of imaging the breast absolute Young's modulus in fast fashion. To improve the quality of elastography images, a novel system consisting of two load cells has been attached to the ultrasound probe. The load cells measure the breast surface forces to be used for calculating the tissue stress distribution throughout the breast. To facilitate fast imaging, this stress calculation is conducted by an accelerated finite element method. Acquired tissue displacements and surface force data are used as input to the proposed Young's modulus reconstruction technique. Numerical and tissue mimicking phantom studies were conducted for validating the proposed system. These studies indicated that fast imaging of breast tissue absolute Young's modulus using the proposed ultrasound elastography system is feasible. The tissue mimicking phantom study indicated that the system is capable of providing reliable absolute Young's modulus values for both normal tissue and tumour as the maximum Young's modulus reconstruction error was less than 6%. This demonstrates that the proposed system has a good potential to be used for clinical breast cancer assessment.