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Super-Resolution Ultrasound (SRUS) through localising and tracking of Microbubbles (MBs) can achieve sub-wavelength resolution for imaging microvascular structure and flow dynamics in deep tissue in-vivo. The technique assumes that signals from individual MBs can be isolated and localised accurately, but this assumption starts to break down when the MB concentration increases and the signals from neighbouring MBs start to interfere. The aim of this study is to gain understanding of the effect of MB-MB distance on ultrasound images and their localisation. Ultrasound images of two MBs approaching each other were synthesised by simulating both ultrasound field propagation and nonlinear MB dynamics. Besides the distance between MBs, a range of other influencing factors including MB size, ultrasound frequency, transmit pulse sequence, pulse amplitude and localisation methods were studied. The results show that as two MBs approach each other, the interference fringes can lead to significant and oscillating localisation errors, which are affected by both the MB and imaging parameters. When modelling a clinical linear array probe operating at 6MHz, localisation errors between 20 to 30 µm (∼1/10th wavelength) can be generated when MBs are ∼ 500µm (2 wavelengths or ∼ 1.7 times the Point Spread Function (PSF)) away from each other. When modelling a cardiac probe operating at 1.5 MHz, the localisation errors were as high as 200 µm (∼1/5th wavelength) even when the MBs were more than 10 wavelengths apart (2.9 times the PSF). For both frequencies, at smaller separation distances, the two MBs were misinterpreted as one MB located in between the two true positions. Cross-correlation or Gaussian fitting methods were found to generate slightly smaller localisation errors than centroiding. In conclusion, caution should be taken when generating and interpreting SRUS images obtained using high agent concentration with MBs separated by less than 1.7 to 3 times the PSF, as significant localisation errors can be generated due to interference between neighbouring MBs.

Original publication




Journal article


Phys med biol

Publication Date



Contrast Enhanced, Microbubbles, Super Resolution Ultrasound, Ultrasound Localization Microscopy