Archives of Acoustics, 48, 4, pp. 559–572, 2023

3D Synthetic Aperture Imaging Method in Spectrum Domain for Low-Cost Portable Ultrasound Systems

Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Polish Academy of Sciences

Portable, hand-held ultrasound devices capable of 3D imaging in real time are the next generation of the
medical imaging apparatus adapted not only for professional medical stuff but for a wide group of less advanced users. Limited power supply capacity and the relatively small number of channels used for the ultrasound data acquisition are the most important limitations that should be taken into account when designing such devices and when developing the corresponding image reconstruction algorithms.
The aim of this study was to develop a new 3D ultrasound imaging method which would take into account the above-mentioned features of the new generation of ultrasonic devices – low-cost portable general access scanners.
It was based on the synthetic transmit aperture (STA) method combined with the Fourier spectrum domain (SD) acoustic data processing. The STA using a limited number of elements in transmit and receive modes for ultrasound data acquisition allowed both aforementioned constraints to be obeyed simultaneously. Moreover, the computational speed of the fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm utilized for the ultrasound image synthesis in the spectrum domain makes the proposed method to be more competitive compared to the conventional time domain (TD) STA method based on the delay-and-sum (DAS) technique, especially in the case of 3D imaging in real time mode.
Performance of the proposed method was verified using numerical 3D acoustic data simulated in the Field II program for MATLAB and using experimental data from the custom design 3D scattering phantom collected by means of the Verasonics Vantage 256™ research ultrasound system equipped with the dedicated 1024-element 2D matrix transducer.
The method proposed in this paper was about 80 times faster than its counterpart based on the time
domain synthetic transmit aperture (TD-STA) approach in the numerical example of a single 3D ultrasound image synthesized from 4 partial images each containing 64 × 64 × 512 pixels. It was also shown that the acceleration of the image reconstruction was achieved at the cost of a slight deterioration in the image quality assessed by the contrast and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR).
Keywords: ultrasound imaging; matrix transducer; delay-and-sum; Fourier transform; synthetic aperture
Full Text: PDF
Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International CC BY 4.0.


Austeng A., Holm S. (2002), Sparse 2-D arrays for 3-D phased array imaging – design methods, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 49(8): 1073–1086, doi: 10.1109/tuffc.2002.1026019.

Brigham E.O. (1988), The Fast Fourier Transform and Its Applications, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Busse L.J. (1992), Three-dimensional imaging using a frequency-domain synthetic aperture focusing technique, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 39(2): 174–179, doi: 10.1109/58.139112.

Campbell S., Lees C., Moscoso G., Hall P. (2005), Ultrasound antenatal diagnosis of cleft palate by a new technique: the 3D reverse face view, Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 25(1): 12–18, doi: 10.1002/uog.1819.

Cheng J., Lu J. (2006), Extended high-frame rate imaging method with limited-diffraction beams, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 53(5): 880–899, doi: 10.1109/tuffc.2006.1632680.

Fenster A., Downey D.B., Cardinal H.N. (2001), Three-dimensional ultrasound imaging, Physics in Medicine & Biology, 46(5): 67–99, doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/46/5/201.

Gammelmark K.L., Jensen J.A. (2003), Multielement synthetic transmit aperture imaging using temporal encoding, IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 22(4): 552–563, doi: 10.1109/TMI.2003.809088.

Guenther D.A., Walker W.F. (2007), Optimal apodization design for medical ultrasound using constrained least squares part II simulation results, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 54(2): 343–358, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2007.248.

Hill C.R., Bamber J.C., ter Haar G.R. [Eds.] (2004), Physical Principles of Medical Ultrasonics, 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., New York, doi: 10.1002/0470093978.

Jensen J.A. (1996), Field: A program for simulating ultrasound systems, [in:] Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, Proceedings of 10th Nordic-Baltic Conference on Biomedical Imaging, 34(sup. 1): 351–353.

Jensen J.A. (2021), Users’ guide for the Field II program, Release 3.30, April 5, 2021, (access: 5.04.2021).

Jensen J.A., Nikolov S.V., Gammelmark K.L., Pedersen M.H. (2006), Synthetic aperture ultrasound imaging, Ultrasonics, 44: e5–e15, doi: 10.1016/j.ultras.2006.07.017.

Jensen J.A., Svendsen N.B. (1992), Calculation of pressure fields from arbitrarily shaped, apodized, and excited ultrasound transducers, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 39(2): 262–267, doi: 10.1109/58.139123.

Ji S., Roberts D.W., Hartov A., Paulsen K.D. (2011), Real-time interpolation for true 3-dimensional ultrasound image volumes, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 30(2): 243–252, doi: 10.7863/jum.2011.30.2.243.

Karaman M., Wygant I.O., Oralkan Ö., Khuri-Yakub B.T. (2009), Minimally redundant 2-D array designs for 3-D medical ultrasound imaging, IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 28(7): 1051–1061, doi: 10.1109/TMI.2008.2010936.

Kotsianos-Hermle D., Hiltawsky K.M., Wirth S., Fischer T., Friese K., Reiser M. (2009), Analysis of 107 breast lesions with automated 3D ultrasound

and comparison with mammography and manual ultrasound, European Journal of Radiology, 71(1): 109–115, doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2008.04.001.

Landry A., Spence J.D., Fenster A. (2005), Quantification of carotid plaque volume measurements using 3D ultrasound imaging, Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, 31(6): 751–762, doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2005.02.011.

Martínez-Graullera O., Martín C.J., Godoy G., Ullate L.G. (2010), 2D array design based on Fermat spiral for ultrasound imaging, Ultrasonics, 50(2): 280–289, doi: 10.1016/j.ultras.2009.09.010.

Mehdizadeh S., Austeng A., Johansen T.F., Holm S. (2012), Minimum variance beamforming applied to ultrasound imaging with a partially shaded aperture, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 59(4): 683–693, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2012.2246.

Montaldo G., Tanter M., Bercoff J., Benech N., Fink M. (2009), Coherent plane-wave compounding for very high frame rate ultrasonography and transient elastography, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 56(3): 489–506, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2009.1067.

Nikolov S.I., Jensen J.A., Tomov B.G. (2008), Fast parametric beamformer for synthetic aperture imaging, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 55(8): 1755–1767, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2008.860.

Padilla F. et al. (2013), Breast mass characterization using 3-dimensional automated ultrasound as an adjunct to digital breast tomosynthesis: a pilot study, Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine, 32(1): 93–104, doi: 10.7863/jum.2013.32.1.93.

Ramalli A., Boni E., Roux E., Liebgott H., Tortoli P. (2022), Design, implementation, and medical applications of 2-D ultrasound sparse arrays, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 69(10): 2739–2755, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2022.3162419.

Savord B., Solomon R. (2003), Fully sampled matrix transducer for real time 3D ultrasonic imaging, [in:] IEEE Symposium on Ultrasonics, pp. 945–953, doi: 10.1109/ULTSYM.2003.1293556.

Skjelvareid M.H. (2012), Synthetic aperture ultrasound imaging with application to interior pipe inspection, Ph.D. Thesis, pp. 76–77, University of Tromso, Norway.

Skjelvareid M.H., Olofsson T., Birkelund Y., Larsen Y. (2011), Synthetic aperture focusing of ultrasonic data from multilayered media using an omega-K algorithm, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 58(5): 1037–1048, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2011.1904.

Szabo T.L. (2004), Imaging systems and application, [in:] Biomedical Engineering, Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging, pp. 297–336, Academic Press, doi: 10.1016/B978-012680145-3/50011-6.

Tasinkevych Y. (2017), 3D ultrasonography in real time: Image reconstruction methods, [in:] Advances in Medicine and Biology, pp. 87–122, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York.

Tasinkevych Y., Klimonda Z., Lewandowski M., Nowicki A., Lewin P.A. (2013), Modified multielement synthetic transmit aperture method for ultrasound imaging: A tissue phantom study, Ultrasonics, 53(2): 570–579, doi: 10.1016/j.ultras.2012.10.001.

Tasinkevych Y., Trots I., Nowicki A., Lewandowski M. (2012), Optimization of the Multi-element Synthetic Transmit Aperture Method for Medical Ultrasound Imaging Applications, Archives of Acoustics, 37(1): 47–55, doi: 10.2478/v10168-012-0007-6.

Thomenius K.E. (1996), Evolution of ultrasound beamformers, [in:] Proceeding of IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium, pp. 1615–1622, doi: 10.1109/ULTSYM.1996.584398.

Trots I., Nowicki A., Lewandowski M. (2009), Synthetic transmit aperture in ultrasound imaging, Archives of Acoustics, 34(4): 685–695.

Ullate L.G., Godoy G., Martinez O., Sanchez T. (2006), Beam steering with segmented annular arrays, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 53(10): 1944–1954, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2006.127.

Wang Y., Stephens D.N., O’Donnell M. (2002), Optimizing the beam pattern of a forward-viewing ring-annular ultrasound array for intravascular imaging, IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, 49(12): 1652–1664, doi: 10.1109/TUFFC.2002.1159845.

Yang M., Sampson R., Wenisch T.F., Chakrabarti C. (2013), Separable beamforming for 3-D synthetic aperture ultrasound imaging, [in:] Proceedings of SiPS 2013, pp. 207–212, doi: 10.1109/SiPS.2013.6674506.

Yoon H., Song T.K. (2019), Sparse rectangular and spiral array designs for 3D medical ultrasound imaging, Sensors (Basel), 20(1): 173, doi: 10.3390/s20010173.

DOI: 10.24425/aoa.2023.146820