Ultrasound microvessel imaging (UMI), when applied with ultrafast planewave acquisitions, has demonstrated superior blood signal sensitivity in comparison to conventional Doppler imaging. Here we propose a high spatial resolution and ultra-sensitive UMI that is based on conventional line-by-line high-frequency ultrasound imagers and singular value decomposition (SVD) clutter filtering for the visualization and quantification of tumor microvasculature and perfusion. The technique was applied to a chicken embryo tumor model of renal cell carcinoma that was treated with two FDA-approved anti-angiogenic agents at clinically relevant dosages. We demonstrate the feasibility of 3D evaluation with UMI to achieve highly sensitive detection of microvasculature using conventional line-by-line ultrasound imaging on a preclinical and commercially available high-frequency ultrasound device without software or hardware modifications. Quantitative parameters (vascularization index and fractional moving blood volume) derived from UMI images provide significantly improved evaluation of anti-angiogenic therapy response as compared with conventional power Doppler imaging, using histological analysis and immunohistochemistry as the reference standard. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates that high-frequency UMI is a low-cost, contrast-agent-free, easily applicable, accessible, and quantitative imaging tool for tumor characterization, which may be very useful for preclinical evaluation and longitudinal monitoring of anti-cancer treatment.
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