In elastography, quantitative elastograms are desirable as they are system and operator independent. Such quantification also facilitates more accurate diagnosis, longitudinal studies and studies performed across multiple sites. In optical elastography (compression, surface-wave or shear-wave), quantitative elastograms are typically obtained by assuming some form of homogeneity. This simplifies data processing at the expense of smearing sharp transitions in elastic properties, and/or introducing artifacts in these regions.
Recently, we proposed an inverse problem-based approach to compression OCE that does not assume homogeneity, and overcomes the drawbacks described above. In this approach, the difference between the measured and predicted displacement field is minimized by seeking the optimal distribution of elastic parameters. The predicted displacements and recovered elastic parameters together satisfy the constraint of the equations of equilibrium. This approach, which has been applied in two spatial dimensions assuming plane strain, has yielded accurate material property distributions.
Here, we describe the extension of the inverse problem approach to three dimensions. In addition to the advantage of visualizing elastic properties in three dimensions, this extension eliminates the plane strain assumption and is therefore closer to the true physical state. It does, however, incur greater computational costs. We address this challenge through a modified adjoint problem, spatially adaptive grid resolution, and three-dimensional decomposition techniques. Through these techniques the inverse problem is solved on a typical desktop machine within a wall clock time of ~ 20 hours. We present the details of the method and quantitative elasticity images of phantoms and tissue samples.
Quantitative elasticity imaging, which retrieves elastic modulus maps from tissue, is preferred to qualitative strain imaging for acquiring system- and operator-independent images and longitudinal and multi-site diagnoses.
Quantitative elasticity imaging has already been demonstrated in optical elastography by relating surface-acoustic and shear wave speed to Young’s modulus via a simple algebraic relationship. Such approaches assume largely homogeneous samples and neglect the effect of boundary conditions.
We present a general approach to quantitative elasticity imaging based upon the solution of the inverse elasticity problem using an iterative technique and apply it to compression optical coherence elastography. The inverse problem is one of finding the distribution of Young’s modulus within a sample, that in response to an applied load, and a given displacement and traction boundary conditions, can produce a displacement field matching one measured in experiment. Key to our solution of the inverse elasticity problem is the use of the adjoint equations that allow the very efficient evaluation of the gradient of the objective function to be minimized with respect to the unknown values of Young’s modulus within the sample. Although we present the approach for the case of linear elastic, isotropic, incompressible solids, this method can be employed for arbitrarily complex mechanical models.
We present the details of the method and quantitative elastograms of phantoms and tissues. We demonstrate that by using the inverse approach, we can decouple the artefacts produced by mechanical tissue heterogeneity from the true distribution of Young’s modulus, which are often evident in techniques that employ first-order algebraic relationships.