Ultrasound transmission tomography usually generates low-resolution breast images. We improve sound-speed reconstructions using ultrasound waveform tomography with both transmission and reflection data. We validate the improvement using computer-generated synthetic-aperture ultrasound transmission and reflection data for numerical breast phantoms. Our tomography results demonstrate that using both transmission and reflection data in ultrasound waveform tomography greatly enhances the resolution and accuracy of tomographic reconstructions compared to ultrasound waveform tomography using either transmission data or reflection data alone. To verify the capability of our novel ultrasound waveform tomography, we design and manufacture a new synthetic-aperture breast ultrasound tomography system with two parallel transducer arrays for clinical studies. The distance of the two transducer arrays is adjustable for accommodating different sizes of the breast. The parallel transducer arrays also allow us to easily scan the axillary region to evaluate the status of axillary lymph nodes and detect breast cancer in the axillary region. However, synthetic-aperture ultrasound reflection data acquired by firing each transducer element sequentially are usually much weaker than transmission data, and have much lower signal-to-noise ratios than the latter. We develop a numerical virtual-point-source method to enhance ultrasound reflection data using synthetic-aperture ultrasound data acquired by firing each transducer element sequentially. Syntheticaperture ultrasound reflection data for a breast phantom obtained using our numerical virtual-point-source method reveals many coherent ultrasound reflection waveforms that are weak or invisible in the original synthetic-aperture ultrasound data. Ultrasound waveform tomography using both transmission and reflection data together with numerical virtual-point-source method has great potential to produce high-resolution tomographic reconstructions in clinical studies of breast ultrasound tomography.
Keywords: Breast cancer, numerical virtual point source, reflection, transmission, synthetic-aperture ultrasound, ultrasound ray tomography, ultrasound tomography, ultrasound waveform tomography, virtual point source
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