Regularized Spectral Log Difference Technique for Ultrasonic Attenuation Imaging

Andres L. Coila, Roberto Lavarello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The attenuation coefficient slope (ACS) has the potential to be used for tissue characterization and as a diagnostic ultrasound tool, hence complementing B-mode images. The ACS can be valuable for the estimation of other ultrasound parameters such as the backscatter coefficient. There is a well-known tradeoff between the precision of the estimated ACS values and the data block size used in the spectral-based techniques such as the spectral-log difference (SLD). This tradeoff limits the practical usefulness of the spectral-based attenuation imaging techniques. In this paper, the regularized SLD (RSLD) technique is presented in detail, and evaluated with simulations and experiments with physical phantoms, ex vivo and in vivo. The RSLD technique allowed decreasing estimation variance when using small data block sizes, i.e., fivefold reduction in the standard deviation of percentage error when using data block sizes larger than 20λ × 20λ and more than a tenfold reduction when using 10λ × 10λ data blocks. The precision improvement was obtained without sacrificing estimation accuracy (i.e., estimation bias improved in 70% of the cases by 10% of the ground truth-value on average while degraded in 30% of the cases by 3% of the ground truth-value on average). The improvements in precision allowed for better differentiation of inclusions especially when using small data blocks (i.e., smaller than 20λ × 20λ) where the contrast-to-noise ratio improved by an order of magnitude on average. The results suggest that the RSLD allows for the reconstruction of attenuation coefficient images with an improved tradeoff between spatial resolution and estimation precision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-389
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Attenuation imaging
  • quantitative ultrasound (QUD)
  • tissue characterization
  • total variation regularization


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