Spatial compounding has been used for years to reduce speckle in ultrasonic images and to resolve anatomical features hidden behind the grainy appearance of speckle. Adaptive imaging restores image contrast and resolution by compensating for beamforming errors caused by tissue-induced phase errors. Spatial compounding represents a form of incoherent imaging, whereas adaptive imaging attempts to maintain a coherent, diffraction-limited aperture in the presence of aberration.
Using a Siemens Antares scanner, we acquired single channel RF data on a commercially available 1-D probe. Individual channel RF data was acquired on a cyst phantom in the presence of a near field electronic phase screen. Simulated data was also acquired for both a 1-D and a custom built 8x96, 1.75-D probe (Tetrad Corp.). The data was compounded using a receive spatial compounding algorithm; a widely used algorithm because it takes advantage of parallel beamforming to avoid reductions in frame rate. Phase correction was also performed by using a least mean squares algorithm to estimate the arrival time errors.
We present simulation and experimental data comparing the performance of spatial compounding to phase correction in contrast and resolution tasks. We evaluate spatial compounding and phase correction, and combinations of the two methods, under varying aperture sizes, aperture overlaps, and aberrator strength to examine the optimum configuration and conditions in which spatial compounding will provide a similar or better result than adaptive imaging. We find that, in general, phase correction is hindered at high aberration strengths and spatial frequencies, whereas spatial compounding is helped by these aberrators.