WE-B-210-02: The Advent of Ultrafast Imaging in Biomedical Ultrasound



In the last fifteen years, the introduction of plane or diverging wave transmissions rather than line by line scanning focused beams has broken the conventional barriers of ultrasound imaging. By using such large field of view transmissions, the frame rate reaches the theoretical limit of physics dictated by the ultrasound speed and an ultrasonic map can be provided typically in tens of micro-seconds (several thousands of frames per second). Interestingly, this leap in frame rate is not only a technological breakthrough but it permits the advent of completely new ultrasound imaging modes, including shear wave elastography, electromechanical wave imaging, ultrafast doppler, ultrafast contrast imaging, and even functional ultrasound imaging of brain activity (fUltrasound) introducing Ultrasound as an emerging full-fledged neuroimaging modality.

At ultrafast frame rates, it becomes possible to track in real time the transient vibrations – known as shear waves – propagating through organs. Such “human body seismology” provides quantitative maps of local tissue stiffness whose added value for diagnosis has been recently demonstrated in many fields of radiology (breast, prostate and liver cancer, cardiovascular imaging, …). Today, Supersonic Imagine company is commercializing the first clinical ultrafast ultrasound scanner, Aixplorer with real time Shear Wave Elastography. This is the first example of an ultrafast Ultrasound approach surpassing the research phase and now widely spread in the clinical medical ultrasound community with an installed base of more than 1000 Aixplorer systems in 54 countries worldwide.

For blood flow imaging, ultrafast Doppler permits high-precision characterization of complex vascular and cardiac flows. It also gives ultrasound the ability to detect very subtle blood flow in very small vessels. In the brain, such ultrasensitive Doppler paves the way for fUltrasound (functional ultrasound imaging) of brain activity with unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution compared to fMRI. Combined with contrast agents, our group demonstrated that Ultrafast Ultrasound Localization could provide a first in vivo and non invasive imaging modality at microscopic scales deep into organs. Many of these ultrafast modes should lead to major improvements in ultrasound screening, diagnosis, and therapeutic monitoring.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.Achieve familiarity with recent advances in ultrafast ultrasound imaging technology.
  • 2.Develop an understanding of potential applications of ultrafast ultrasound imaging for diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring.

Dr. Tanter is a co-founder of Supersonic Imagine,a French company positioned in the field of medical ultrasound imaging and therapy.