Maximum likelihood estimation of shear wave speed in transient elastography

2014 IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging 33;6 (1338-1349)

Ultrasonic transient elastography (TE), enables to assess, under active mechanical constraints, the elasticity of the liver, which correlates with hepatic fibrosis stages. This technique is routinely used in clinical practice to assess noninvasively liver stiffness. The Fibroscan system used in this work generates a shear wave via an impulse stress applied on the surface of the skin and records a temporal series of radio-frequency (RF) lines using a single-element ultrasound probe. A shear wave propagation map (SWPM) is generated as a 2-D map of the displacements along depth and time, derived from the correlations of the sequential 1-D RF lines, assuming that the direction of propagation (DOP) of the shear wave coincides with the ultrasound beam axis (UBA). Under the assumption of pure elastic tissue, elasticity is proportional to the shear wave speed. This paper introduces a novel approach to the processing of the SWPM, deriving the maximum likelihood estimate of the shear wave speed when comparing the observed displacements and the estimates provided by the Green's functions. A simple parametric model is used to interface Green's theoretical values of noisy measures provided by the SWPM, taking into account depth-varying attenuation and time-delay. The proposed method was evaluated on numerical simulations using a finite element method simulator and on physical phantoms. Evaluation on this test database reported very high agreements of shear wave speed measures when DOP and UBA coincide.

Pubmed : 24835213