, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 155-171

Elastography: Imaging the elastic properties of soft tissues with ultrasound

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Elastography is a method that can ultimately generate several new kinds of images, called elastograms. As such, all the properties of elastograms are different from the familiar properties of sonograms. While sonograms convey information related to the local acoustic backscatter energy from tissue components, elastograms relate to its local strains, Young's moduli or Poisson's ratios. In general, these elasticity parameters are not directly correlated with sonographic parameters, i.e. elastography conveys new information about internal tissue structure and behavior under load that is not otherwise obtainable. In this paper we summarize our work in the field of elastography over the past decade. We present some relevant background material from the field of biomechanics. We then discuss the basic principles and limitations that are involved in the production of elastograms of biological tissues. Results from biological tissues in vitro and in vivo are shown to demonstrate this point. We conclude with some observations regarding the potential of elastography for medical diagnosis.