Fast Acoustic Steering Via Tilting Electromechanical Reflectors (FASTER): A Novel Method for High Volume Rate 3-D Ultrasound Imaging.
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The 3-D ultrasound imaging is essential for a wide range of clinical applications in diagnostic and interventional cardiology, radiology, and obstetrics for prenatal imaging. 3-D ultrasound imaging is also pivotal for advancing technical developments of emerging imaging technologies, such as elastography, blood flow imaging, functional ultrasound (fUS), and super-resolution microvessel imaging. At present, however, existing 3-D ultrasound imaging methods suffer from low imaging volume rate, suboptimal imaging quality, and high costs associated with 2-D ultrasound transducers. Here, we report a novel 3-D ultrasound imaging technique, fast acoustic steering via tilting electromechanical reflectors (FASTER), which provides both high imaging quality and fast imaging speed while at low cost. Capitalizing upon unique water immersible and fast-tilting microfabricated mirror to scan ultrafast plane waves in the elevational direction, FASTER is capable of high volume rate, large field-of-view (FOV) 3-D imaging with conventional 1-D transducers. In this article, we introduce the fundamental concepts of FASTER and present a series of calibration and validation studies for FASTER 3-D imaging. In a wire phantom and tissue-mimicking phantom study, we demonstrated that FASTER was capable of providing spatially accurate 3-D images with a 500-Hz imaging volume rate and an imaging FOV with a range of 48 (20 mm at 25-mm depth) in the elevational direction. We also showed that FASTER had comparable imaging quality with conventional mechanical translation-based 3-D imaging. The principles and results presented in this study establish the technical foundation for the new paradigm of high volume rate 3-D ultrasound imaging based on ultrafast plane waves and fast-tilting, water-immersible microfabricated mirrors.