Unsupervised clustering method to convert high-resolution magnetic resonance volumes to three-dimensional acoustic models for full-wave ultrasound simulations


Simulations of acoustic wave propagation, including both the forward and the backward propagations of the wave (also known as full-wave simulations), are increasingly utilized in ultrasound imaging due to their ability to more accurately model important acoustic phenomena. Realistic anatomic models, particularly those of the abdominal wall, are needed to take full advantage of the capabilities of these simulation tools. We describe a method for converting fat-water-separated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumes to anatomical models for ultrasound simulations. These acoustic models are used to map acoustic imaging parameters, such as speed of sound and density, to grid points in an ultrasound simulation. The tissues of these models are segmented from the MRI volumes into five primary classes of tissue in the human abdominal wall (skin, fat, muscle, connective tissue, and nontissue). This segmentation is achieved using an unsupervised machine learning algorithm, fuzzy c-means clustering (FCM), on a multiscale feature representation of the MRI volumes. We describe an automated method for utilizing FCM weights to produce a model that achieves ∼90% agreement with manual segmentation. Two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) full-wave nonlinear ultrasound simulations are conducted, demonstrating the utility of realistic 3-D abdominal wall models over previously available 2-D abdominal wall models.

Publication Title

Journal of Medical Imaging