Generalized waveform methods for breast viscoelasticity mapping

Project: Research project

Project Details


Early diagnosis of breast cancer is critical for favorable clinical outcomes. Many traditional imaging methods
have suboptimal sensitivity for breast cancer detection, particularly in women with dense breasts. Methods with
high sensitivity, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), suffer from low specificity rates, resulting in
unnecessary biopsies. In normal clinical practice, majority of biopsy cases turn out to be false positives,
leading to unnecessary biopsies. Undergoing biopsy for benign disease can result in significant cost and great
emotional distress. Any reduction in false positives can be significant in terms of patient care, and healthcare
cost. It is, therefore, important to develop new low-cost breast imaging techniques with high sensitivity and
specificity. The long-term goal of this project is to develop an ultrasound-based breast imaging technique to
improve the diagnostic specificity in breast cancer. To improve the specificity, one needs to measure a
parameter of tissue that is highly correlated to tissue pathology. One such parameter for breast is the shear
elastic modulus. To date, several methods have been developed for mapping the shear elasticity of tissue. In
almost all cases, these methods are based on the assumption of plane shear wave propagation in tissue.
However, this assumption can be violated in the complex structure of biological soft tissues, leading to errors in
elasticity estimation and image artifacts, which may produce false positives or false negatives. For this reason,
developing an elasticity mapping technique that does not rely on this assumption is of significant value.
The short-term goal of the proposed research is to develop a new method for viscoelasticity imaging of breast
that can work with any type of wave, and not restricted to plane shear waves. The proposed method, called
radiation force computed elastography (RFCE), produces quantitative map of tissue viscoelasticity. This
method uses ultrasound radiation force (URF) to induce a vibration in tissue, and then measures the resulting
motion. Such motion does not have to be a plane shear wave or any other particular wave mode. RFCE is
anticipated to produce more reliable and accurate results than other viscoelasticity imaging methods that are
based on the assumption of plane shear wave. RFCE treats viscoelasticity estimation as a stochastic problem,
a robust approach when conditions are not well defined. Goal of this project are achieved in 3 Specific Aims:
(1) Extension and implementation of a novel computational inverse problem framework to viscoelasticity
mapping using URF, (2) Validation of the inverse problem framework using laboratory phantoms and tissue
samples, and (3) Pilot Studies- Estimation of viscoelastic parameters of masses in human breast. The first Aim
is focused on developing the computational method for estimating viscoelasticity map of the object from motion
data. The second aim optimizes RFCE on phantoms and tissue sample and prepares it for the human study in
the third aim. Aim 3 is focused on evaluating the performance of RFCE in identifying masses in breast in
clinical settings. Successful completion of this project will have a significant impact in breast cancer imaging.
Effective start/end date2/1/141/31/18


  • National Institutes of Health: $499,713.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $405,273.00
  • National Institutes of Health: $420,279.00


  • Medicine(all)

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