Research in elasticity imaging typically relies on 1-10 MHz ultrasound. Elasticity imaging at these frequencies can provide strain maps with a resolution in the order of millimetres, but this is not sufficient for applications to skin, articular cartilage or other fine structures. We developed a prototype high resolution elastomicroscopy system consisting of a 50 MHz ultrasound backscatter microscope system and a calibrated compression device using a load cell to measure the pressure applied to the specimen, which was installed between a rigidly fixed face-plate and a specimen platform. Radiofrequency data were acquired in a B-scan format (10 mm wide × 3 mm deep) in specimens of mouse skin and bovine patellar cartilage. The scanning resolution along the B-scan plane direction was 50 μm, and the ultrasound signals were digitized at 500 MHz to achieve a sensitivity better than 1 μm for the axial displacement measurement. Because of elevated attenuation of ultrasound at high frequencies, special consideration was necessary to design a face-plate permitting efficient ultrasound transmission into the specimen and relative uniformity of the compression. Best results were obtained using a thin plastic film to cover a specially shaped slit in the face-plate. Local tissue strain maps were constructed by applying a cross-correlation tracking method to signals obtained at the same site at different compression levels. The speed of sound in the tissue specimen (1589.8 ± 7.8 m s-1for cartilage and 1532.4 ± 4.4 m s-1for skin) was simultaneously measured during the compression test. Preliminary results demonstrated that this ultrasound elastomicroscopy technique was able to map deformations of the skin and articular cartilage specimens to high resolution, in the order of 50 μm. This system can also be potentially used for the assessment of other biological tissues, bioengineered tissues or biomaterials with fine structures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging