We report a summary of recent developments and current status of our teams efforts to image and quantify in vivo nonlinear strain and tissue mechanical properties. Our work is guided by a focus on applications to cancer diagnosis and treatment using clinical ultrasound imaging and quasi-static tissue deformations. We review our recent developments in displacement estimation from ultrasound image sequences. We discuss cross correlation approaches, regularized optimization approaches, guided search methods, multiscale methods, and hybrid methods. Current implementations can return results of high accuracy in both axial and lateral directions at several frames per second. We compare several strain estimators. Again we see a benefit from a regularized optimization approach. We then discuss both direct and iterative methods to reconstruct tissue mechanical property distributions from measured strain and displacement fields. We review the formulation, discretization, and algorithmic considerations that come into play when attempting to infer linear and nonlinear elastic properties from strain and displacement measurements. Finally we illustrate our progress with example applications in breast disease diagnosis and tumor ablation monitoring. Our current status shows that we have demonstrated quantitative determination of nonlinear parameters in phantoms and in vivo, in the context of 2D models and data. We look forward to incorporating 3D data from 2D transducer arrays to noninvasively create calibrated 3D quantitative maps of nonlinear elastic properties of breast tissues in vivo.
Keywords: Ultrasound, elastography, elasticity imaging, speckle tracking, block matching, strain imaging, modulus, modulus imaging, modulus reconstruction, nonlinear, nonlinearity