PURPOSE: Conventional ultrasound methods for acquiring color flow images of the blood motion are limited by a relatively low frame rate and are restricted to only giving velocity estimates along the ultrasound beam direction. To circumvent these limitations, the Plane Wave Excitation (PWE) method has been proposed. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The PWE method can estimate the 2D vector velocity of the blood with a high frame rate. Vector velocity estimates are acquired by using the following approach: The ultrasound is not focused during the ultrasound transmission, and a full speckle image of the blood can be acquired for each pulse emission. The pulse is a 13 bit Barker code transmitted simultaneously from each transducer element. The 2D vector velocity of the blood is found using 2D speckle tracking between segments in consecutive speckle images. Implemented on the experimental scanner RASMUS and using a 100 CPU linux cluster for post processing, PWE can achieve a frame of 100 Hz where one vector velocity sequence of approximately 3 sec, takes 10 h to store and 48 h to process. In this paper a case study is presented of in-vivo vector velocity estimates in different complex vessel geometries. RESULTS: The flow patterns of six bifurcations and two veins were investigated. It was shown: 1. that a stable vortex in the carotid bulb was present opposed to other examined bifurcations, 2. that retrograde flow was present in the superficial branch of the femoral artery during diastole, 3. that retrograde flow was present in the subclavian artery and antegrade in the common carotid artery during diastole, 4. that vortices were formed in the sinus pockets behind the venous valves in both antegrade and retrograde flow, and 5. that secondary flow was present in various vessels. CONCLUSION: Using a fast vector velocity ultrasound method, in-vivo scans have been recorded where complex flow patterns were visualized in greater detail than previously visualized by conventional color flow imaging techniques.
Keywords: Blood Flow Velocity; Brachiocephalic Trunk; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Artery, Common; Cerebral Veins; Diastole; Humans; Image Enhancement; Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted; Jugular Veins; Saphenous Vein; Sensitivity and Specificity; Ultrasonography, Doppler, Color