This paper investigates the possibility of flow estimation using spatio-temporal encoding of the transmissions in synthetic transmit aperture imaging (STA). The spatial encoding is based on a frequency division approach. In STA, a major disadvantage is that only a single transmitter (denoting single transducer element or a virtual source) is used in every transmission. The transmitted acoustic energy will be low compared to a conventional focused transmission in which a large part of the aperture is used. By using several transmitters simultaneously, the total transmitted energy can be increased. However, to focus the data properly, the signals originating from the different transmitters must be separated. To do so, the pass band of the transducer is divided into a number of subbands with disjoint spectral support. At every transmission, each transmitter is assigned one of the subbands. In receive, the signals are separated using a simple filtering operation. To attain high axial resolution, broadband spectra must be synthesized for each of the transmitters. By multiplexing the different waveforms on different transmitters over a number of transmissions, this can be accomplished. To further increase the transmitted energy, the waveforms are designed as linear frequency modulated signals. Therefore, the full excitation amplitude can be used during most of the transmission. The method has been evaluated for blood velocity estimation for several different velocities and incident angles. The program Field II was used. A 128-element transducer with a center frequency of 7 MHz was simulated. The 64 transmitting elements were used as the transmitting aperture and 128 elements were used as the receiving aperture. Four virtual sources were created in every transmission. By beamforming lines in the flow direction, directional data were extracted and correlated. Hereby, the velocity of the blood was estimated. The pulse repetition frequency was 16 kHz. Three different setups were investigated with flow angles of 45, 60, and 75 degrees with respect to the acoustic axis. Four different velocities were simulated for each angle at 0.10, 0.25, 0.50, and 1.00 m/s. The mean relative bias with respect to the peak flow for the three angles was less than 2%, 2%, and 4%, respectiv- ely.
I E E E Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control, 2006, Vol 53, Issue 7, p. 1289-1299
medical ultrasound; Velocity estimation; spatial encoding