Journal or Book Title
Premature delivery is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Currently, premature delivery cannot be prevented and new treatments are difficult to develop due to the inability to diagnose symptoms prior to uterine contractions. Cervical ripening is a long period that precedes the active phase of uterine contractions and cervical dilation. The changes in the microstructure of the cervix during cervical ripening suggest that the ultrasonic attenuation should decrease. The objective of this study is to use the reference phantom algorithm to estimate the ultrasonic attenuation in the cervix of pregnant human patients. Prior to applying the algorithm to in vivo human data, two homogeneous phantoms with known attenuation coefficients were used to validate the algorithm and to find the length and the width of the region of interest (ROI) that achieves the smallest error in the attenuation coefficient estimates. In the phantom data, we found that the errors in the attenuation coefficients estimates are less than 12% for ROIs that contain 40 wavelengths or more axially and 30 echo lines or more laterally. The reference phantom algorithm was then used to obtain attenuation maps of the echoes from two human pregnant cervices at different gestational ages. It was observed that the mean of the attenuation coefficient estimates in the cervix of the patient at a more advanced gestational age is smaller than the mean of the attenuation coefficient estimates in the cervix of the patient at an earlier gestational age which suggests that ultrasonic attenuation decreases with increasing gestational age. We also observed a large variance between the attenuation coefficient estimates in the different regions of the cervix due to the natural variation in tissue micro-structures across the cervix. The preliminary results indicate that the algorithm could potentially provide an important diagnostic tool for diagnosing the risk of premature delivery.
Labyed, Yassin; Bigelow, Timothy A.; and McFarlin, Barbara L., "Estimate of the attenuation coefficient using a clinical array transducer for the detection of cervical ripening in human pregnancy" (2011). Mechanical Engineering Publications. 57.