UBC Theses and Dissertations
On the identification of mechanical properties of viscoelastic materials Eskandari, Hani
Commonly used medical imaging techniques can render many properties of the anatomy or function, but are still limited in their ability to remotely measure tissue mechanical properties such as elasticity and viscosity. A remote and objective palpation function would help physicians in locating possible tumors or malignancies. The branch of medical imaging that characterizes tissues mechanical properties in a non-invasive manner has enjoyed increasing interest in the past two decades. The basic principle is to apply an excitation, such as tissue compression, to a region of interest and measure the resulting tissue deformation. Tissue mechanical properties can then be inferred from the observed deformation at multiple locations in the region, and the properties can be displayed as an image. If the excitation is dynamic, the deformation is considered as a motion field that varies in time and location over the region of interest. Ultrasound is particularly well suited for measuring motion fields due to its ability to image in real-time, low cost, low risk and ease-of-accessibility. The focus of this thesis is the estimation of the viscoelastic parameters such as Young's modulus, viscosity and relaxation-time. For this purpose, a motion estimation method is proposed to measure axial tissue displacements from the peak of the ultrasound radio frequency signals. The displacements can be further processed to identify the mechanical properties. Two methods were developed: the first one is based on a one dimensional Voigt's model of soft tissue and the second one is based on a finite element model. In the first method, a single frequency or wide-band excitation is applied to the tissue and the local relaxation-time is recovered from the phase difference between the strains or displacements. In this method, the elasticity can also be reconstructed from the magnitudes of the spectra. In the second approach, a novel dynamic finite element model is proposed for the incompressible soft materials. An inverse problem of viscoelasticity is solved iteratively to reconstruct the viscosity and elasticity based on a two or three dimensional model. The theoretical aspect of compressional elastography and longitudinal wave propagation is investigated. It is shown to be feasible to apply dynamic or transient compressional excitation to recover the dynamic properties of soft tissue.
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