Date: 04 Dec 2008

Full experimental modelling of a liver tissue mimicking phantom for medical ultrasound studies employing different hydrogels

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Tissue mimicking phantoms have been widely reported to be an important tool for development, optimisation and performance testing of ultrasound-based diagnostic techniques. In particular, modern applications of tissue mimicking phantoms often include characterisation of the nonlinear behaviour of experimental ultrasound contrast agents. In such cases, the tissue-mimicking materials should be chosen not only based on the values of their density, speed of sound and attenuation coefficient, but also considering their effect on the appearance of “native harmonics” due to nonlinear distortion of ultrasound signal during propagation. In a previous paper it was demonstrated that a cellulose-based hydrogel is suitable to simulate nonlinear acoustical behaviour of liver tissue for thicknesses up to 8 cm. In this paper we present the experimental characterisation of the nonlinear acoustical behaviour of a different polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEGDA)-based hydrogel, in order to assess whether and how it can improve the performances and overcome some limitations of the cellulose-based hydrogel as liver tissue-mimicking material. Samples of pig liver tissue, cellulose-based hydrogel and PEGDA-based hydrogel were insonified in a through-transmission set-up, employing 2.25-MHz pulses with different mechanical index (MI) values. Second harmonic and first harmonic amplitudes were extracted from the spectra of received signals and their difference was then used to compare sample behaviours. Obtained results show how a new more accurate and combined experimental model of linear and nonlinear acoustical behaviour of liver tissue is feasible. In fact, a further confirmation of the cellulose-based hydrogel effectiveness to precisely simulate the liver tissue for penetration depths up to 8 cm was provided, and it was also shown that the employment of the PEGDA-based hydrogel can extend the range of useful tissue-mimicking material thicknesses up to 11 cm, moreover allowing a considerable improvement of the time stability and behaviour reliability of the corresponding manufactured phantoms.