Elastography: Imaging Soft-Tissue Biomechanical Characteristics

Objective:

Tissue elasticity has been used in medicine as an indication of tissue anomalies for centuries. Palpation of breast and prostate are still the most common clinical procedures in cancer screening for those corresponding anatomical structures. Elastography is an emerging technique for imaging tissue viscoelasticity. This project aims to address some of the pending issues in generating ultrasound elastography images, while also investigating novel acquisition and analysis techniques for advanced imaging applications.

Elastography is an emerging technique for imaging tissue viscoelasticity from internal tissue displacements observed often in magnetic resonance or ultrasound time sequences.  Elastography based on ultrasound is particularly important, as ultrasound is real-time, cost-effective, non-ionizing, and thus a widely-used imaging modality.  Elastography has great potential in diagnosis and treatment planning because pathologies, e.g. tumors and cirrhosis, are often stiffer than their surrounding tissue.  It can furthermore be beneficial as an indication of tissue composition for robust characterization and segmentation of anatomical structures with different mechanical properties, e.g. for arterial plaque characterization.   Despite all these benefits, elastography is still not fully exploited in clinics.  Several different methodological approaches proposed in this field are still not fully mature and there is a clear need for robust methods for imaging tissue elasticity in an accurate, fast, and reproducible way.  This project aims to address some of the pending issues in generating ultrasound elastography images, while also investigating novel acquisition and analysis techniques for advanced imaging applications.

Different imaging techniques and modalities provide additional information to physicians for better diagnosis and screening, and tissue elasticity is one such information that clinicians can exploit in their decision making. Results of our research will improve current clinical practices by helping to bring tissue elasticity imaging into the arsenal of everyday medicine.

Participants: Prof. Orçun Göksel, Dr. Sergio Sanabria, Corin Felix Otesteanu, Ece Özkan Elsen