JP2010253300A - Ultrasonic probe and ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus - Google Patents

Ultrasonic probe and ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus Download PDF

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JP2010253300A
JP2010253300A JP2010179962A JP2010179962A JP2010253300A JP 2010253300 A JP2010253300 A JP 2010253300A JP 2010179962 A JP2010179962 A JP 2010179962A JP 2010179962 A JP2010179962 A JP 2010179962A JP 2010253300 A JP2010253300 A JP 2010253300A
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compression
ultrasonic
pressure
unit
frame data
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JP5325847B2 (en
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Takeshi Matsumura
Takeshi Mitsutake
Takeshi Shiina
Satoshi Tamano
毅 三竹
剛 松村
毅 椎名
聡 玉野
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Hitachi Medical Corp
Takeshi Shiina
株式会社日立メディコ
毅 椎名
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Abstract

A high-quality elastic image in elastic image diagnosis can be stably depicted in an arbitrary time phase.
SOLUTION: A compression plate 31 disposed on an ultrasonic transmission / reception surface, a pressure measurement unit 21 for measuring a pressure between the compression plate and a subject, and a compression operation based on the pressure measured by the pressure measurement unit. The ultrasonic probe 10 includes the automatic compression mechanism 22 to be controlled. Thus, the ultrasonic probe can be automatically pressed in one direction at a desired constant speed on the subject, so that high-quality elastic image data can be acquired at any time. And the reproducibility of the compression operation can be maintained.
[Selection] Figure 1

Description

The present invention relates to an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus for obtaining a tomogram for a diagnosis region in the subject using ultrasound, the distortion of each point on the image from the particular arranged in time series a pair of RF signal frame data Further, the present invention relates to an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus capable of calculating an elastic modulus and displaying it as an elastic image quantitatively indicating the hardness or softness of a living tissue.

  A conventional general ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus includes an ultrasonic transmission / reception control unit that controls ultrasonic transmission / reception, an ultrasonic transmission / reception unit that transmits and receives ultrasonic waves to a subject, and a reflected echo signal from the ultrasonic transmission / reception unit. And a tomographic scanning means for repeatedly obtaining tomographic image data in a subject including a moving tissue at a predetermined cycle, and an image display means for displaying time-series tomographic image data obtained by the tomographic scanning means. It had been. The structure of the living tissue inside the subject is displayed as, for example, a B-mode image.

  On the other hand, recently, an external force is applied from the body surface of the subject on the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface of the ultrasonic probe by a manual method, and two frames adjacent in time series (two continuous frames). Using the correlation calculation of the received ultrasound signal, obtain the displacement at each point, further measure the strain by spatially differentiating the displacement, and image this strain data, and also the stress distribution due to external force From the strain data, a technique for imaging elastic modulus data represented by Young's modulus of living tissue has become realistic. According to the elastic image based on such strain and elastic modulus data (hereinafter referred to as elastic frame data), the hardness and softness of the living tissue can be measured and displayed. Examples of such an ultrasonic device include those described in Patent Document 1 or Patent Document 2.

JP-A-5-317313 JP 2000-60853 A

  It is known that the amount of pressurization or decompression suitable for rendering high-quality elastic image data is a range in which a strain of about 0.5% to 1% is generated in the tissue of interest. In the time phase when the amount is not given, the rendered elastic image data is distorted, and image diagnosis using the elastic image becomes difficult.

On the other hand, the calculation of the elastic frame data employs a method in which one elastic frame data is constituted by a set of RF signal frame data acquired at a constant time interval. Accordingly, the image quality of each of a plurality of elastic image data (particularly strain image data) acquired in a series of compression processes is the time at which a set of RF signal frame data for constituting each elastic image data is acquired. , Will depend on the compression speed. That is, in order to acquire a set of RF signal frame data at a certain time interval, when the compression speed at a certain time is fast, the strain applied to the tissue at that time is large, and conversely, the compression speed at a certain time is slow. This means that the strain applied to the tissue at that time is small.

  However, since the conventional elastic imaging method using an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus employs a method of manually compressing a tissue of interest, it is suitable for high image quality at all times in a series of compression processes. It is difficult to keep pressing within the range of compression speeds, and since the compression speed at each time is not constant, the plurality of elastic image data output as a result is temporally discontinuous, The image becomes stiff between frames, and image diagnosis becomes difficult.

  Further, the occurrence of camera shake in the compression process is unavoidable, and the direction of compression fluctuates at each time, which causes the discontinuity of the elastic image data obtained continuously. In addition, due to the above-mentioned causes, it is inevitable that the image quality of the elastic image depends on the procedure of the inspector.

The problem to be solved by the present invention is to enable a high-quality elastic image in elastic image diagnosis to be stably depicted in an arbitrary time phase .

In order to solve the above problems, the present invention is measured by a compression plate disposed on an ultrasonic transmission / reception surface, a pressure measurement unit that measures a pressure between the compression plate and a subject, and the pressure measurement unit. There is provided an ultrasonic probe comprising an automatic compression means for controlling a compression operation based on the pressure.

In this case, when the pressure measuring unit measures a pressure larger than a set reference, the automatic pressing unit can stop the compression operation. Further, the automatic compression means can be attached later to an existing ultrasonic probe. That is, the automatic compression means is attached to the existing ultrasonic probe in use as a retrofit.

The present invention also provides a compression plate disposed on the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface, a pressure measurement unit that measures a pressure between the compression plate and the subject, and a compression based on the pressure measured by the pressure measurement unit. An ultrasonic probe having an automatic compression means for controlling operation, an ultrasonic transmission / reception means for transmitting and receiving ultrasonic waves to and from the subject by the ultrasonic probe, and received ultrasonic waves There is provided an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus comprising a displacement measuring means for measuring a displacement based on the image and an image display means for displaying an elastic image based on the displacement.

Instead, the present invention relates to a compression unit that compresses an imaging target region of a subject, an ultrasonic transmission / reception unit that transmits and receives ultrasonic waves to and from the subject using the ultrasonic probe, and acquisition. Displacement measuring means for measuring displacement based on a plurality of time-series RF signal frame data, and image display means for displaying an elastic image based on the displacement, and according to period information of the RF signal frame data An ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus in which the compression operation of the compression means is controlled is provided.

In this case, the compression means can control the compression speed of the compression operation based on the period information of the RF signal frame data. As a result, even when the ultrasound transmission / reception cycle has changed due to a change in the diagnostic conditions of the ultrasound diagnostic device, it is automatically controlled to obtain the optimal compression speed for acquiring high-quality elastic images. can do. In addition, when the period of the RF signal frame data is halved, the compression means can halve the compression speed of the compression operation.

According to the present invention, the above-described problems can be solved as described below. That is, conventionally, since taking a method of compressing the use hands to tissue of interest, at all times in a series of compression process, it is difficult to continue squeezed compression rate range suitable for high image quality, In addition, since the compression speed at each time is not constant, the plurality of elastic image data output as a result is temporally discontinuous and becomes a video with a gap between the frames of the elastic image data. Furthermore, camera shake is unavoidable in the compression process, and the compression direction varies at each time, which causes the discontinuity of the continuously acquired elastic image data. Also, due to such a cause, it is inevitable that the image quality of the elastic image depends on the procedure of the inspector. However, by using an ultrasonic probe equipped with automatic compression means as in the present invention, it is possible to automatically move the compression stage up and down in a certain direction at a desired constant speed, and at any time Can acquire high-quality elastic image data. Furthermore, since the reproducibility of the compression operation can be maintained, it is possible to avoid the problem that the image quality of the elastic image depends on the inspector.

Further, the automatic compression means controls the compression operation of the automatic compression means based on the information of the pressure measured by the pressure measurement means, so that the pressure data output from the pressure measurement means increases a pressure larger than a certain reference. At the measured time, it is possible to stop the operation of the motor mechanism and the like, and it is possible to avoid the danger caused by excessively pressing the subject. In the image diagnosis using an elastic image, there is a pressure range in which a high-quality elastic image can be obtained, and if the image is compressed with a pressure equal to or higher than a certain threshold value or compressed with a pressure equal to or lower than a certain threshold value, the elastic image Since it is known that the pressure data output from the pressure measurement means in a certain pressurization process measures a pressure greater than a certain threshold, continuous depressurization from the pressurization process. In order to switch to the process, the operation of the motor mechanism, etc. is controlled, and conversely, at a time when the pressure data output from the pressure sensor measures a small pressure below a certain threshold value in a continuous decompression process, from the decompression process The operation of the motor mechanism can be controlled to switch to a continuous pressurization process. By repeating this operation, an appropriate compression state is always maintained. Theft is possible. Thereby, a high-quality elastic image can be efficiently acquired in a limited diagnosis time.

The ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus of the present invention includes an ultrasonic transmission / reception unit that transmits and receives ultrasonic waves to a subject using any of the ultrasonic probes configured as described above, and transmission of the ultrasonic waves. And ultrasonic transmission / reception control means for controlling reception, and tomographic scanning means for repeatedly acquiring RF signal frame data in a subject including a moving tissue at a predetermined cycle using a reflected echo signal output from the ultrasonic transmission / reception means; , Signal processing means for performing signal processing of a plurality of time-series RF signal frame data acquired by the tomographic scanning means, and monochrome luminance for converting time-series tomographic frame data from the signal processing means into monochrome tomographic image data RF signal frame data to be subjected to displacement measurement from a plurality of time-series RF signal frame data groups acquired by the information conversion means and the tomographic scanning means. RF signal frame data selecting means for selecting a set, and displacement measuring means for measuring the amount of movement or displacement of each point on the tomogram based on the set of RF signal frame data selected by the RF signal frame data selecting means A tomographic image based on a pressure measuring means for measuring or estimating a body cavity pressure of a diagnostic site of the subject, and the displacement measured by the displacement measuring means and the body cavity pressure measured by the pressure measuring means. A strain and elastic modulus calculation means for calculating the strain and elastic modulus of each point above to generate first elastic frame data, and the first elastic frame data generated by the strain and elastic modulus calculation means as a signal Elastic data processing means for processing to generate second elastic frame data; and the second elastic frame generated by the elastic data processing means. Hue information conversion means or monochrome luminance information conversion means for inputting hue data or monochrome brightness information, monochrome tomographic image data from the monochrome brightness information conversion means, and color elastic image from the hue information conversion means The switching addition means for adding the data or the black and white elastic image data from the monochrome luminance information conversion means or sending them independently, and the image display means for displaying the image data from the switching addition means can be configured. As a result, a high-quality elastic image can be stably imaged in any time phase using the ultrasonic probe of the present invention.

As described above, according to the present invention, in elastic image diagnosis, there is an effect that a high-quality elastic image can be stably depicted even in an arbitrary time phase.

The block diagram which shows the Example of the ultrasonic diagnosing device by this invention Diagram showing a typical ultrasonic linear ultrasonic probe Diagram showing an ultrasound probe with a compression plate The figure which shows the ultrasonic ultrasonic probe which incorporated the automatic compression mechanism by the motor mechanism by this invention. The figure which shows the ultrasonic probe which incorporated the automatic compression mechanism by the hydraulic mechanism by this invention. The figure which shows the automatic compression mechanism with which the existing ultrasonic probe was mounted | worn by the external attachment type by this invention Diagram showing an ultrasonic probe equipped with a pressure sensor The figure which shows controlling the automatic compression mechanism according to pressure information with the pressure measurement part by this invention.

  Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings. FIG. 1 is a block diagram showing an embodiment of an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus according to the present invention. This ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus obtains a tomographic image of a diagnostic region of a subject using ultrasonic waves and displays an elastic image representing the hardness or softness of a living tissue. As shown in the figure, the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus includes an ultrasonic probe 10, an ultrasonic transmission / reception control circuit 11, a transmission circuit 12, a reception circuit 13, a phasing addition circuit 14, and a signal processing unit 15. A black and white scan converter 16, a switching adder 17, an image display 18, an RF signal frame data selection unit 19, a displacement measurement unit 20, a pressure measurement unit 21, an automatic compression mechanism 22, and distortion and elasticity. The rate calculation unit 23, the elasticity data processing unit 24, and the color scan converter 25 are configured.

  The ultrasonic probe 10 performs mechanical or electronic beam scanning to transmit and receive ultrasonic waves to a subject. FIG. 2 is a diagram showing the appearance of a one-dimensional linear array ultrasonic probe that is generally used. On the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface 101 of the ultrasonic probe, an element group of a transducer that is a generation source of ultrasonic waves and receives reflected echoes is arranged in an array. The ultrasonic transmission / reception control circuit 11 controls the timing for transmitting and receiving ultrasonic waves. The transmission circuit 12 generates a transmission pulse for generating an ultrasonic wave by driving the ultrasonic probe 10 and has a convergence point of the ultrasonic wave transmitted by the built-in transmission phasing / adding circuit 14. The depth is set.

  The receiving circuit 13 amplifies the reflected echo signal received by the ultrasonic probe 10 with a predetermined gain. The phasing / adding circuit 14 inputs the received signal amplified by the receiving circuit 13 and performs phase control to form an ultrasonic beam at one or more convergence points. Further, the signal processing unit 15 receives the received signal from the phasing addition circuit 14 and performs signal processing such as gain correction, log compression, detection, contour enhancement, and filter processing. The ultrasonic probe 10, the transmission circuit 12, the ultrasonic transmission / reception control circuit 11, the reception circuit 13, the phasing addition circuit 14 and the signal processing unit 15 constitute an ultrasonic transmission / reception unit. A tomographic image is obtained by causing the acoustic probe 10 to scan the body of the subject with an ultrasonic beam in a certain direction.

  The black-and-white scan converter 16 acquires RF signal frame data in the subject including the moving tissue at an ultrasonic cycle using the reflected echo signal output from the signal processing unit 15 of the ultrasonic transmission / reception means, and this RF signal frame data A tomographic scanning means for reading out in synchronism with the TV for displaying the image and a means for controlling the system, an A / D converter for converting the reflected echo signal from the signal processing unit 15 into a digital signal, and this It consists of a plurality of frame memories for storing tomographic image data digitized by the A / D converter in time series, a controller for controlling these operations, and the like.

  The image display 18 serves as means for displaying time-series tomographic image data obtained by the black and white scan converter 16. The image display 18 outputs analog image data output from the black and white scan converter 16 and input via the switching adder 17. It comprises a D / A converter for converting to a video signal and a color television monitor for inputting an analog video signal from the D / A converter and displaying it as an image.

  The RF signal frame data selection unit 19 stores the RF signal frame data output from the phasing addition circuit 14 one after another at the frame rate of the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus in the frame memory provided in the RF signal frame data selection unit 19. The RF signal frame data currently secured is set as the RF signal frame data N, and the past RF signal frame data N-1, N-2, N-3, ..., one RF signal frame data is selected from NM, and is designated as RF signal frame data X. Then, the RF signal frame data selection unit 19 outputs the current RF signal frame data N and the past RF signal frame data X as a set of signals to the displacement measurement unit 20. Here, the signal output from the phasing addition circuit 14 is described as RF signal frame data. However, for example, it may be a signal in the form of I and Q signals obtained by complex demodulation of the RF signal.

  The displacement measurement unit 20 performs one-dimensional or two-dimensional correlation processing based on the set of RF signal frame data N and X selected by the RF signal frame data selection unit 19 to move or move each point on the tomographic image. The vector (direction and magnitude of displacement) is measured. As a method for detecting the movement vector, for example, there are a block matching method and a gradient method described in Patent Document 1. In the block matching method, an image is divided into blocks of, for example, N × N pixels, a block that is closest to the target block in the current frame is searched from the previous frame, and predictive coding is performed with reference to this block. Is what you do.

  In general, the compression operation of the subject according to the conventional method in the imaging of the elastic modulus using ultrasound is effectively performed in the body cavity of the diagnosis site of the subject while performing ultrasound transmission / reception with the ultrasound probe 10. For the purpose of giving a stress distribution, the ultrasonic transmitting / receiving surface 101 of the ultrasonic probe 10 as shown in FIG. A method is adopted in which the compression surface constituted by the sound wave transmitting / receiving surface 101 and the compression plate 31 is brought into contact with the body surface of the subject and the subject is compressed by manually moving the compression surface up and down.

  In this embodiment, the automatic compression mechanism 22 that can automatically perform manual subject compression operation on the ultrasonic probe 10 by mechanical operation is provided. FIG. 4 is a diagram illustrating an example in which a driving force by a motor mechanism is used as an example of an automatic compression mechanism that performs a compression operation of an ultrasonic probe. In FIG. 4, the automatic compression mechanism moves the compression stage 102, which is independent of the compression surface constituted by the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface 101 and the compression plate 31 in the ultrasonic ultrasonic probe, up and down. The automatic compression mechanism includes a gear (pinion) 42 provided on the rotation shaft of the motor mechanism 41 held by the ultrasonic probe holding unit 103 of the ultrasonic probe 10 held by an inspector, and a compression stage 102. It is comprised with the rack and pinion comprised with the plate gear (rack) 43 provided in the support member 104 of this. The motor mechanism 41 is configured to move the compression stage 102 up and down by the motor mechanism 41 provided in the ultrasonic probe holding unit 103 in accordance with a control command from the external motor control unit 44. The motor mechanism 41 may be configured by a mechanism using an electromagnetic motor, an ultrasonic motor, or the like. In addition to the rack and pinion, the motor mechanism 41 may be provided with a cam, and the support member 104 may be driven in the vertical direction according to the shape of the cam.

FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating an example in which the driving force by the pump mechanism is used as another example of the automatic compression mechanism. In FIG. 5, the automatic compression mechanism moves the compression stage 102, which is independent of the compression surface constituted by the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface 101 and the compression plate 31 of the ultrasonic probe 10, up and down. The automatic compression mechanism is configured by a backward-acting hydraulic cylinder 51 held by the ultrasonic probe holding portion 103 of the ultrasonic ultrasonic probe 10 held by an inspector. A support member 104 of the compression stage 102 is coupled to the piston 511 of the hydraulic cylinder 51. The hydraulic cylinder 51 is connected to a hydraulic pump 53 by a hydraulic tube 52, and has a structure in which a piston 511 provided in the hydraulic cylinder 51 is moved up and down by the hydraulic control of the hydraulic pump 53 and interlocked with the piston. The compression stage 102 is automatically moved up and down. The pump mechanism is not particularly limited to a hydraulic type, and may be configured by a mechanism using hydraulic air pressure or the like.

  In the above-described embodiment, an example in which a driving mechanism such as a motor mechanism or a pump mechanism serving as a driving force for the compression stage 102 is provided on the ultrasonic probe holding unit 103 side is shown. You may prepare for the compression stage side. Moreover, although the case where the automatic compression mechanism was incorporated in the inside of the ultrasonic probe 10 was demonstrated, the method of implement | achieving an objective simply by mounting | wearing the automatic compression mechanism outside the existing ultrasonic probe. It is also possible to try.

  FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating an example of an ultrasonic probe that can perform an operation equivalent to driving of a compression stage by mounting an automatic compression mechanism outside an existing ultrasonic probe. . The automatic compression mechanism 60 includes an ultrasonic probe fixing mechanism 61 that holds the existing ultrasonic probe 10 in a fixed manner, and a drive that drives the ultrasonic probe fixing mechanism 61 in a linear direction (vertical direction). And a mechanism 62. The ultrasonic probe fixing mechanism 61 presses the neck portion of the ultrasonic probe holding portion 103 of the ultrasonic probe 10 to fix and hold the ultrasonic probe 10. The ultrasonic probe 10 fixed by the ultrasonic probe fixing mechanism 61 in this way is equivalent to a compression stage as shown in FIG. Therefore, a plate gear (rack) 63 provided on the support member 62 of the ultrasonic probe fixing function 61 and a gear (pinion) 65 provided on the rotation shaft of the drive mechanism (motor mechanism) 64 are configured. The ultrasonic probe holding unit 103, that is, the ultrasonic probe 10, is moved up and down by using a rack and pinion. In FIG. 6, two gears 66 and 67 for power transmission are provided between a plate gear (rack) 63 and a gear (pinion) 65. Such an automatic compression mechanism 60 is attached to the existing ultrasonic probe 10 from the outside. If the inspector holds the automatic compression mechanism 60, the ultrasonic probe 10 itself can be moved up and down as a compression stage.

  As described above, in the conventional elastic imaging method using the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus, since the method of manually compressing the tissue of interest is adopted, it is suitable for high image quality at all times in a series of compression processes. It is difficult to keep pressing within the compression speed range, and because the compression speed at each time is not constant, the plurality of elastic image data output as a result is discontinuous in time, and the frame of the elastic image data It becomes a picture with a jump in between. Furthermore, camera shake is unavoidable in the compression process, and the compression direction varies at each time, which causes the discontinuity of the continuously acquired elastic image data. Also, due to such a cause, it is inevitable that the image quality of the elastic image depends on the procedure of the inspector. However, by using the automatic compression mechanism as in this embodiment, it is possible to automatically move the compression stage up and down in a certain direction at a desired constant speed, and a high-quality elastic image at an arbitrary time. Data can be acquired. Furthermore, since the reproducibility of the compression operation can be maintained, it is possible to avoid the problem that the image quality of the elastic image depends on the inspector.

  Next, there is provided a pressure measuring unit 21 that measures the pressure received by the subject epidermis from the compression surface of the compression plate 31, and the operation of the automatic compression mechanism 22 is controlled using the pressure data. An example will be described. FIG. 7 is a diagram illustrating an example of an ultrasound probe including a pressure measuring unit that measures how much pressure is applied between the ultrasound transmitting / receiving surface of the ultrasound probe and the subject skin. It is. As shown in FIG. 7, the ultrasonic probe is provided with a pressure measuring unit 21 including pressure sensors 71 to 76 at the peripheral portion of the compression plate 31. Using such an ultrasonic probe, as shown in FIG. 1, the pressure between the compression plate 31 and the subject epidermis is measured at an arbitrary time phase, and the pressure data is used as the automatic compression mechanism 22 and the distortion. And output to the elastic modulus calculation unit 23. That is, the automatic compression mechanism 22 according to this embodiment acquires pressure data measured by the pressure measurement unit 21 and controls the compression operation of the automatic compression mechanism 22 according to the pressure data. First, the case where the automatic compression mechanism 22 and the pressure measurement part 21 are connected as shown in FIG. 1 and the operation | movement is controlled is demonstrated. FIG. 8 is a diagram showing an example in which the driving force by the motor mechanism 41 shown in FIG. 4 is used. As shown in FIG. 8, pressure data of pressure sensors 71 to 76 mounted around the compression plate 31 is input to the motor control unit 44 of the automatic compression mechanism 22. The motor control unit 44 outputs a motor control signal corresponding to the pressure data to the motor mechanism 41 and controls the motor mechanism 41 to perform a desired compression operation.

  In the conventional elastic imaging method using an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus, since the method of manually compressing the tissue of interest is taken, there is a possibility that it may be accidentally compressed more than necessary, so ensuring the safety of the subject. Sufficient consideration must be given to the aspect. By using the automatic compression mechanism as in this embodiment, the operation of the motor mechanism 41 can be stopped at the time when the pressure data output from the pressure sensors 71 to 76 measures a pressure larger than a certain reference. It becomes possible, and the danger by oversqueezing the subject can be avoided. In the image diagnosis using an elastic image, there is a pressure range in which a high-quality elastic image can be obtained, and if the image is compressed with a pressure equal to or higher than a certain threshold, Is known to be disturbed. In the conventional elastic imaging method using an ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus, a method of manually compressing a tissue of interest is used. Therefore, it is not possible to continue to compress a subject with a pressure within the above range at an arbitrary time. Have difficulty. However, by using the automatic compression mechanism of this embodiment, the pressure data output from the pressure sensor in a continuous pressurization process is measured from the pressurization process at a time when a pressure greater than a certain threshold is measured. In order to switch to a continuous decompression process, the operation of the motor mechanism is controlled, and conversely, in a certain decompression process, the pressure data output from the pressure sensor measures a small pressure below a certain threshold, The operation of the motor mechanism can be controlled to switch from the depressurization process to the continuous pressurization process. By repeating this operation, it is possible to always maintain an appropriate compression state. Thereby, a high-quality elastic image can be efficiently acquired in a limited diagnosis time.

  The automatic compression mechanism according to this embodiment acquires period information between a set of RF signal frame data N and X selected by the RF signal frame data selection unit 19, and the automatic compression mechanism 22 performs the compression operation. It is controlled according to the cycle. Hereinafter, an example of the operation will be described.

  The period between the set of RF signal frame data N and X selected by the RF signal frame data selection unit 19 is the RF signal frame data output from the phasing addition circuit 14 and input to the RF signal frame data selection unit 19. It is determined by the period and the number of RF signal frame data thinned out between the past RF signal frame data X and the current RF signal frame data N constituting this set of RF signal frame data. For example, when the RF signal frame data output from the phasing and adding circuit 14 has a period of 40 frames per second and the number of thinned frames between one set of RF signal frame data N and X is one frame, The period between one set of RF signal frame data is 20 frames per second. The automatic compression mechanism 22 acquires period information between the set of RF signal frame data N and X, and controls the compression speed of the compression operation in the automatic compression mechanism 22 based on the acquired period information. . For example, in the case of the above-described conditions, the period of the RF signal frame data output from the phasing addition circuit 14 is 40 frames per second, and the period between the pair of RF signal frame data N and X is 20 frames per second , It is assumed that the compression is continuously performed at a compression speed V0 that gives a strain of 0.7% as a distortion amount suitable for improving the image quality of the tissue of interest.

  Under this situation, if the period of the RF signal frame data output from the phasing and adding circuit 14 is changed to a period of 20 frames per second due to a change in the diagnostic conditions of the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus, a set of RF signals The period between the frame data N and X is halved to 10 frames per second. At this time, if the compression is still performed at the compression speed V0, the intermittent time between the RF signal frame data is twice as long, so the distortion applied to the tissue of interest increases to 1.4%, This will deviate from the range of distortion suitable for high image quality. As a result, the continuous elastic image data output also becomes a disordered image. Therefore, in the automatic compression mechanism 22 according to this embodiment, period information of the RF signal frame data is acquired, and, for example, in the above-described situation, the compression speed is changed to a compression speed that is halved to V0 / 2. The compression operation of the automatic compression mechanism 22 is controlled.

  However, in the conventional elastic imaging method using the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus, since the method of manually compressing the tissue of interest is used, it is possible to change the compression speed according to the change in the diagnostic conditions of the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus. Although it is very difficult, according to the automatic compression mechanism 22 according to this embodiment, high image quality can be obtained even in a situation where the ultrasonic transmission / reception cycle has changed due to a change in the diagnostic conditions of the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus. It is possible to automatically control to obtain an optimal compression speed for acquiring an elastic image.

The automatic compression mechanism 22 can arbitrarily switch the setting of the compression operation such as the compression speed, the amount of compression (amplitude) integrated in the continuous pressurization process / decompression process, and the pressure threshold value for stopping the compression operation. The strain and elastic modulus calculator 23 calculates the strain and elastic modulus of each point on the tomographic image from the movement amount (displacement) and the pressure obtained by the displacement measuring unit 20 and the pressure measuring unit 21, respectively. Numerical data (elastic frame data) is generated and the elastic frame data is output to the elastic data processing unit 24. For example, the strain calculation does not require pressure data, and the displacement is spatially differentiated. Calculated. For example, the Young's modulus Ym, which is one of the elastic moduli, is calculated by dividing the stress (pressure) at each calculation point by the strain amount at each calculation point, as shown in the following equation (1). Is required.
Ymi, j = pressure (stress) ij / (strain amount i, j) (1)
(I, j = 1, 2, 3, ...)
Here, the indices i and j represent the coordinates of the frame data.

  The elastic data processing unit 24 performs various image processing on the elastic frame data from the strain and elastic modulus calculation unit 23, and sends the processed elastic frame data to the color scan converter 25. The color scan converter 25 performs gradation processing in the elastic frame data from the elastic data processing unit 24 and the command from the control unit (not shown) of the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus or the elastic frame data from the elastic data processing unit 24. An upper limit value and a lower limit value as selection ranges are input, and hue information conversion means for assigning hue information such as red, green, and blue as elasticity image data from the elasticity frame data. For example, from the elasticity data processing unit 24 In the output elastic frame data, a region where the strain is measured is converted to a red code, and a region where the strain is measured is a corresponding region in the elasticity image data. The area is converted to a blue code. The color scan converter 25 may be the black and white scan converter 16. The region where the distortion is measured is made brighter in the corresponding region in the elastic image data, while the region where the distortion is measured is the elastic image. You may make it make the brightness | luminance of the applicable area | region in data dark. The switching adder 17 inputs black and white tomographic image data from the black and white scan converter 16 and color elastic image data from the color scan converter 25, and adds or switches both images. Or output only color elastic image data, or add and synthesize both image data for output. For example, as described in Patent Document 2, a black and white tomographic image and a black or white elastic image by a color or black and white scan converter may be displayed simultaneously in a two-screen display. The image data output from the switching adder 17 is output to the image display 18 and displayed on a color television monitor or the like.

  Next, the operation of the thus configured ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus will be described. First, in accordance with ultrasonic transmission / reception control, a high-voltage electric pulse is applied to the ultrasonic probe 10 in contact with the body surface of the subject by the transmission circuit 12 to emit ultrasonic waves, and a reflected echo signal from the diagnosis site is generated. Received by the ultrasound probe 10. Next, the received signal is input to the receiving circuit 13 and preamplified, and then input to the phasing addition circuit 14. The received signal whose phase is adjusted by the phasing and adding circuit 14 is subjected to signal processing such as compression and detection in the next signal processing unit 15 and then input to the black and white scan converter 16. In the monochrome scan converter 16, the received signal A / D is converted and stored in a plurality of internal frame memories as a plurality of time-sequential tomographic image data.

  In order to evaluate the elasticity of the region of interest inside the subject tissue using the ultrasonic probe 10 equipped with the automatic compression mechanism 22, the subject is subjected to an appropriate compression method automatically set by the automatic compression mechanism 22. Continuous RF signal frame data is output from the phasing addition circuit 14 by bringing the ultrasonic probe 10 into contact with the body surface of the subject while pressing. The continuous RF signal frame data output from the phasing and adding circuit 14 is sequentially stored in the RF signal frame data selection unit 19, and among the RF signal frame data, a plurality of RF signal frames continuous in time series are included. Data is selected by the RF signal frame data selection unit 19 and input to the displacement measurement unit 20, and a one-dimensional or two-dimensional displacement distribution (ΔLi, j) is obtained. The displacement distribution is calculated by, for example, the block matching method as the above-described movement vector detection method. Needless to say, this method need not be particularly used. The displacement may be calculated by calculating the autocorrelation at. Further, period information between a set of RF signal frame data selected by the RF signal frame data selection unit is output to the automatic compression mechanism 22, and the compression operation of the automatic compression mechanism 22 is optimized according to the period information. It has become. On the other hand, the pressure measuring unit 21 measures the pressure applied to the body surface by the pressure sensor, and the pressure information is sent from the pressure measuring unit 21 to the strain and elastic modulus calculating unit 23 and the automatic compression mechanism 22. By optimally controlling the compression operation of the automatic compression mechanism 22 according to the information, the elastic image diagnosis of the subject can be performed efficiently and safely.

Next, the displacement (ΔLi, j) and pressure (ΔPi, j) measurement signals output from the displacement measurement unit 20 and the pressure measurement unit 21 are input to the strain and elastic modulus calculation unit 23. The strain and elastic modulus calculator 23 calculates the strain distribution (εi, j) by spatially differentiating the displacement distribution (ΔLi, j) (ΔLi, j / ΔX). In particular, among the elastic modulus, Young's modulus Ymi, j is calculated by the following equation.
Ymi, j = (ΔPi, j) / (ΔLi, j / ΔX)
Based on the elastic modulus Ymi, j thus obtained, the elastic modulus at each point is obtained, and two-dimensional elastic image data is continuously obtained.

  The elastic frame data obtained in this way is then input to the color scan converter 25 or the monochrome scan converter 16 and converted into hue information or monochrome luminance information. Thereafter, the black and white tomographic image and the color elastic image are added and synthesized via the switching adder 17 or output to the image display 18 without adding the black and white tomographic image and the black and white elastic image. A black and white tomographic image and a color elastic image are superimposed and displayed on the screen. Alternatively, the black and white tomographic image and the black and white elastic image may be simultaneously displayed on the same screen by two-screen display. Further, the black and white tomographic image is not particularly limited to a general B image, and a tissue harmonic tomographic image in which a harmonic component of a received signal is selected and imaged may be used. Similarly, a tissue plastic image may be displayed instead of the black and white tomographic image, and other images displayed on the two screens may be selected by various combinations.

  As for the formation of the elastic image, the example in which the elastic image data is generated by obtaining the strain or Young's modulus Ym of the biological tissue has been described. However, the present invention is not limited to this, and for example, the stiffness parameter β, the pressure The elastic modulus may be calculated using other parameters such as the elastic modulus Ep and the incremental elastic modulus Einc (see Patent Document 1).

  The ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus shown in FIG. 1 has been described for the case where the ultrasonic probe is brought into contact with the body surface of the subject. However, the present invention is not limited to this, and the transrectal ultrasonic probe, trans The present invention can be similarly applied to an arbitrary ultrasonic probe such as an esophageal ultrasonic probe or an intravascular ultrasonic probe.

  As described above, according to the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus according to this embodiment, it is possible to easily and safely acquire a high-quality elastic image with high reproducibility that does not depend on an examiner. In addition, according to the ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus according to this embodiment, an elastic image can be stably depicted with high resolution at an arbitrary time, and a conventional palpation response attempted by a doctor can be visualized as a moving image. By realizing the expression means, it is possible to provide a clinically useful ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus that maintains the real-time property and simplicity of ultrasonic diagnosis.

DESCRIPTION OF SYMBOLS 10 ... Ultrasonic probe 11 ... Ultrasonic transmission / reception control circuit 12 ... Transmission circuit 13 ... Reception circuit 14 ... Phased addition circuit 15 ... Signal processing part 16 ... Black-and-white scan converter 17 ... Switching adder 18 ... Image display device 19 ... RF signal frame data selection unit 20 ... displacement measurement unit 21 ... pressure measurement unit 22 ... automatic compression mechanism 23 ... strain and elastic modulus calculation unit 24 ... elastic data processing unit 25 ... color scan converter 101 ... ultrasonic transmission / reception surface 102 ... compression stage DESCRIPTION OF SYMBOLS 103 ... Ultrasonic probe holding part 104 ... Supporting member 31 ... Compression plate 41 ... Motor mechanism 42 ... Gear (pinion)
43 ... plate gear (rack)
44 ... Motor controller 51 ... Hydraulic cylinder 511 ... Piston 52 ... Hydraulic tube 53 ... Hydraulic pump 60 ... Automatic compression mechanism 61 ... Ultrasonic probe fixing mechanism 62 ... Support member 63 ... Plate gear (rack)
64 ... Drive mechanism (motor mechanism)
65 ... Gear (pinion)
66, 67 ... gear 71-76 ... pressure sensor

Claims (6)

  1. A compression plate disposed on the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface; a pressure measurement unit that measures a pressure between the compression plate and the subject; and an automatic compression unit that controls a compression operation based on the pressure measured by the pressure measurement unit. An ultrasonic probe comprising means .
  2. The ultrasonic probe according to claim 1, wherein when the pressure measuring unit measures a pressure larger than a set reference, the automatic pressing unit stops the pressing operation .
  3. A compression plate disposed on the ultrasonic transmission / reception surface; a pressure measurement unit that measures a pressure between the compression plate and the subject; and an automatic compression unit that controls a compression operation based on the pressure measured by the pressure measurement unit. An ultrasonic probe having means, ultrasonic transmission / reception means for transmitting and receiving ultrasonic waves to and from the subject using the ultrasonic probe, and measuring displacement based on the received ultrasonic waves An ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus comprising: a displacement measuring unit that performs an image display unit that displays an elastic image based on the displacement .
  4. A compression unit that compresses an imaging target region of the subject; an ultrasonic transmission / reception unit that transmits and receives an ultrasonic wave to and from the subject by the ultrasonic probe; and a plurality of time-series RF signals obtained Displacement measuring means for measuring displacement based on frame data and image display means for displaying an elastic image based on the displacement are provided, and the compression operation of the compression means is controlled according to the period information of the RF signal frame data ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus to be.
  5. The ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the compression unit controls a compression speed of the compression operation based on period information of the RF signal frame data .
  6. The ultrasonic diagnostic apparatus according to claim 4, wherein when the period of the RF signal frame data is halved, the compression unit halves the compression speed of the compression operation .
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