An Integrated System for Superharmonic Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound Imaging: Design and Intravascular Phantom Imaging Study
Visualization of the blood vessels can provide valuable morphological information for diagnosis and therapy strategies for cardiovascular disease. Intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) is able to delineate internal structures of vessel wall with fine spatial resolution. However, the developed IVUS is insufficient to identify the fibrous cap thickness and tissue composition of atherosclerotic lesions. Novel imaging strategies have been proposed, such as increasing the center frequency of ultrasound or using a modulated excitation technique to improve the accuracy of diagnosis. Dual-mode tomography combining IVUS with optical tomography has also been developed to determine tissue morphology and characteristics. The implementation of these new imaging methods requires an open system that allows users to customize the system for various studies. This paper presents the development of an IVUS system that has open structures to support various imaging strategies. The system design is based on electronic components and printed circuit board, and provides reconfigurable hardware implementation, programmable image processing algorithms, flexible imaging control, and raw RF data acquisition. In addition, the proposed IVUS system utilized a miniaturized ultrasound transducer constructed using PMNPT single crystal for better piezoelectric constant and electromechanical coupling coefficient than traditional lead zirconate titanate (PZT) ceramics. Testing results showed that the IVUS system could offer a minimum detectable signal of 25 μV, allowing a 51 dB dynamic range at 47 dB gain, with a frequency range from 20 to 80 MHz. Finally, phantom imaging, in vitro IVUS vessel imaging, and multimodality imaging with photoacoustics were conducted to demonstrate the performance of the open system.