A method for flow estimation using synthetic aperture imaging and focusing along the flow direction is presented. The method can find the correct velocity magnitude for any flow angle and full color flow images can be measured using only 32 to 128 pulse emissions. The approach uses spherical wave emissions using a number of defocused elements and a linear frequency modulated pulse (chirp) to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. The received signals are dynamically focused along the flow direction and these signals are used in a cross-correlation estimator for finding the velocity magnitude. The flow angle is manually determined from the B-mode image. The approach can be used for both tissue and blood velocity determination. The approach was investigated using both simulations and a flow system with a laminar flow. The flow profile was measured with a commercial 7.5 MHz linear array transducer. A plastic tube with an internal diameter of 17 mm was used with an EcoWatt 1 pump generating a laminar, stationary flow. The velocity profile was measured for flow angles of 90 and 60 degrees. The RASMUS research scanner was used for acquiring RF data from 128 elements of the array using 8 emissions with 11 elements in each emission. A 20 us chirp was used during emission. The RF data were subsequently beamformed off-line and stationary echo canceling was performed. The 60 degrees flow with a peak velocity of 0.15 m/s was determined using 16 groups of 8 emissions and the relative standard deviation was 0.36% (0.65 mm/s). Using the same set-up for the purely transverse flow gave a std. of 1.2% (2.1 mm/s). Variation of the different parameters has been done to reveal the sensitivity to number of lines, angle deviations, length of correlation interval, and sampling interval. An in-vivo image of the carotid artery and jugular vein of a healthy 29 years old volunteer was acquired. A full color flow image using only 128 emissions could be made with a high velocity precision.
I E E E Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, 2004, Vol 51, Issue 9, p. 1107-1118