High resolution functional ultrasound imaging of microvessels
Within the DFG project "Micro-morphological functional and molecular characterisation of tumour vessels by tracking microbubbles", ultrasound imaging methods are being developed which can reconstruct the vascularisation of e.g. tumours in high resolution with the aid of contrast media. Ultrasonic contrast media generally consist of gas bubbles of a few micrometers in diameter (microbubbles) that alter the ultrasonic echo. With suitable concentrations it is possible to detect individual microbubbles and track their movement in image sequences using tracking algorithms. Since microbubbles are significantly smaller (1-5 µm) than the resolution of the imaging system (50-200 µm), finer vessel structures can be displayed than with conventional US imaging methods. This is called "super-resolution". Tracking also provides additional information such as blood flow speeds and directions. Which new morphological and functional parameters are relevant for the diagnosis or therapy control of tumors is being investigated in cooperation with the Institute of Experimental Molecular Imaging at RWTH Aachen University.