Objective: Estimating the elasticity distribution in the cornea is important because corneal elasticity is usually influenced by corneal pathologies and surgical treatments, especially for early corneal sclerosis. Because the thickness of the cornea is typically less than 1 mm, high-resolution ultrasound elastography as well as the Lamb wave model is required for viscoelastic property estimation. In the present study, an array high-frequency ultrasound (HFUS) elastography method based on ultrafast ultrasound imaging was proposed for estimating the viscoelastic properties of porcine cornea. Methods: The elastic wave was generated by an external vibrator, after which the wave propagation image was obtained using a 40-MHz array transducer. Viscoelasticity estimation was performed by fitting the phase velocity curve using the Lamb wave model. The performance of the proposed HFUS elastography system was verified using 2-mm-thick thin-layer gelatin phantoms with gelatin concentrations of 7% and 12%. Ex vivo experiments were carried out using fresh porcine cornea with artificial sclerosing. Results: Experimental results showed that the estimated elasticity was close to the standard value obtained in the phantom study when the Lamb wave model was used for elasticity measurement. However, the error between the standard elasticity values and the elasticity values estimated using group shear wave velocity was large. In the ex vivo eyeball experiments, the estimated elasticities and viscosities were respectively 9.1 ± 1.3 kPa and 0.5 ± 0.10 Pas for a healthy cornea and respectively 15.9 ± 2.1 kPa and 1.1 ± 0.12 Pas for a cornea with artificial sclerosis. A 3D HFUS elastography was also obtained for distinguishing the region of sclerosis in the cornea. Conclusion The experimental results demonstrated that the proposed HFUS elastography method has high potential for the clinical diagnosis of corneal diseases compared with other HFUS single-element transducer elastography systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering