This work deals with the development of a methodology to evaluate the concentration in cell or particle suspensions from ultrasound images. The novelty of the method is based on two goals: first, it should be valid when the energy reaching the scatterers is unknown and cannot be measured or calibrated. In addition, it should be robust against echo overlap which may occur due to high scatterer concentration. Both characteristics are especially valuable in quantitative ultrasound analysis in the clinical context. In this regard, the present work considers the ability of envelope statistics models to characterize ultrasound images. Envelope statistical analysis are based on the examination of the physical properties of a medium through the study of the statistical distribution of the backscattered signal envelop. A review of the statistical distributions typically used to characterize scattering mediums was conducted. The main parameters of the distribution were estimated from simulations of signals backscattered by particle suspensions. Then, the ability of these parameters to characterize the suspension concentration was analyzed and the µ parameter from the Homodyned-K distribution resulted as the most suitable parameter for the task. Simulations were also used to study the impact of noise, signal amplitude variability and dispersion of particle sizes on the estimation method. The efficiency of the algorithm on experimental measurements was also evaluated. To this end, two sets of ultrasound images were obtained from suspensions of 7 µm and 12 µm polystyrene particles in water, using a 20 MHz focused transducer. The methodology proved to be efficient to quantify the concentration of particle suspensions in the range between 5 and 3000 particles/µl, achieving similar results for both particle sizes and for different signal-to-noise ratios.
This work was supported by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III, projects PI16/00738 and PI16/01822, and co-financed by FEDER resources, by the project PID2019-111392RB-I00 (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) and by the contract GARJUV_CAM_18_00217 from the Youth Employment Program (Madrid Department of Education and Research), co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). ISGlobal also receives support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019-2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and support from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program. CISM is supported by the Government of Mozambique and the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID).