Ultrasound tomography (UST) has seen a revival of interest in the past decade, especially for breast imaging, due to improvements in both ultrasound and computing hardware. In particular, three-dimensional UST, a fully tomographic method in which the medium to be imaged is surrounded by ultrasound transducers, has become feasible. This has led to renewed attention on UST image reconstruction algorithms. In this paper, a comprehensive derivation and study of a robust framework for large-scale bent-ray UST in 3D for a hemispherical detector array is presented. Two ray-tracing approaches are derived and compared. More significantly, the problem of linking the rays between emitters and receivers, which is challenging in 3D due to the high number of degrees of freedom for the trajectory of rays, is analysed both as a minimisation and as a root-finding problem. The ray-linking problem is parameterised for a convex detection surface and two robust, accurate, and efficient derivative-free ray-linking algorithms are formulated and demonstrated and compared with a Jacobian-based benchmark approach. To stabilise these methods, novel adaptive-smoothing approaches are proposed that control the conditioning of the update matrices to ensure accurate linking. The nonlinear UST problem of estimating the sound speed was recast as a series of linearised subproblems, each solved using the above algorithms and within a steepest descent scheme. The whole imaging algorithm was demonstrated to be robust and accurate on realistic data simulated using a full-wave acoustic model and an anatomical breast phantom, and incorporating the errors due to time-of-flight (TOF) picking that would be present with measured data. This method can used to provide a low-artefact, quantitatively accurate, 3D sound speed maps. In addition to being useful in their own right, such 3D sound speed maps can be used to initialise full-wave inversion methods, or as an input to photoacoustic tomography reconstructions.

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Inverse Problems
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Javaherian, A, Lucka, F, & Cox, B.T. (2020). Refraction-corrected ray-based inversion for three-dimensional ultrasound tomography of the breast. Inverse Problems, 36(12). doi:10.1088/1361-6420/abc0fc