Fast feature-preserving speckle reduction for ultrasound images via phase congruency

Lei Zhu, Weiming Wang, Jing Qin, Kin Hong Wong, Kup Sze Choi, Pheng Ann Heng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Ultrasonography is widely used in clinical diagnosis and therapeutic procedures, but speckle noise often obscures important features and complicates interpretation and analysis of ultrasound images. In this regard, speckle reduction is a crucial prerequisite of many computer aided ultrasound diagnosis and treatment systems However, removing speckle noise while simultaneously preserving features in ultrasound images is a challenging task. We propose a novel optimization framework for speckle reduction by leveraging the concept of phase congruency and incorporating a feature asymmetry metric into the regularization term of the objective function to effectively distinguish the features and speckle noise. The feature asymmetry metric can productively separate features from speckle noise by analyzing the local frequency information. Compared with traditional methods employing intensity gradients as regularization terms, our framework is invariant to the intensity amplitude of features so that low contrast features are almost equally protected as high contrast features. In addition, rather than adopting the gradient descent, we propose a novel solver by decomposing the original non-convex optimization into solving several linear systems, leading to an efficient solution of the optimization. Owing to different penalties on speckle noise and features, our method can efficiently remove speckle noise and preserve features at the same time. Experiments on simulated and real ultrasound images demonstrate our method can better maintain features with speckle removal than state-of-the-art methods, especially for the low contrast features.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-284
Number of pages10
JournalSignal Processing
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Feature asymmetry
  • Iteratively weighted least squares
  • Phase congruency
  • Speckle reduction
  • Ultrasound images

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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