The challenge in ultrasound contrast imaging is a better discrimination between the perfused tissue and the contrast bubbles, which is usually expressed by contrast to tissue ratio (CTR). Imaging based on the second harmonic frequency showed a higher CTR than imaging at the fundamental frequency. However, because of nonlinear propagation of ultrasound waves, harmonic frequencies are generated. These harmonic frequencies will be linearly reflected by the tissue and therefore limit the CTR at the second harmonic frequency. In order to reduce the scattering of tissue at harmonic frequencies and by that increase the CTR, nonlinear distortion has to be reduced. We demonstrate in this study that the CTR increases with the harmonic number. The increase is substantial when transmitting at lower frequencies. To take advantage of the higher harmonics (third, fourth, fifth and the ultraharmonics and termed here super harmonics), we have developed a new phased array transducer with a wide frequency band. In-vitro measurements using the new probe show an increase of 40 dB of the CTR for super harmonic components over the conventional second harmonic system. The increase in CTR is in agreement with the calculations using existing models for the response of encapsulated bubbles and known theory of nonlinear propagation.

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Department of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery

Bouakaz, A., Frigstad, S., ten Cate, F., & de Jong, N. (2002). Improved contrast to tissue ratio at higher harmonics. In Ultrasonics (Vol. 40, pp. 575–578). doi:10.1016/S0041-624X(02)00172-5