Ultrasound Shear-Wave Imaging for Biomedical Diagnostics

Technology #16424

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Robert Haupt
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
Managed By
Ben Rockney
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

System and method for analyzing tissue using shear waves

US Patent Pending 2015-0148675


Medical ultrasonic imaging for detecting viscosity abnormalities, which are typically caused by serious internal injuries, such as contusion, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injury, and concussive organ damage. 

Problem Addressed

There is a critical need to perform medical diagnostics for civilians and war fighters in the field to determine if serious internal injury has occurred.  However, these injuries often do not show apparent physical symptoms at the time of medical examination and remain undetected until the injury advances to a far more serious state.  Conventional ultrasonic imaging techniques are insufficient to detect these internal injuries. 


The scope of this invention leverages on novel, near-surface seismic techniques that were developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory.  Exploiting the polarity of the seismic excitation source and seismic receivers can significantly mitigate the signal interference created during conventional excitation processes.  Hence, the signal returns from the shallow target, such as hematomas just under the skull, can yield a high signal-to-noise ratio and more resolved images.  Viscosity abnormalities can be caused by serious internal injuries, such as contusion, traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding from concussive impacts, and stress induced fracturing from carrying heavy loads.  Ultrasonic acquisition configurations and processing methods are designed to best exploit shear-wave phenomena to advance ultrasonic imaging capabilities for detecting and measuring abnormal viscosity changes in organ tissues.  Blood viscosity changes in hematomas generate a shear-wave dispersion that differs from healthy tissue.  Fractures and mass changes in bone impede direct surface waves and body shear-waves.  Survey configurations that exploit reflected and refracted body waves and direct surface waves are used to estimate shear-wave dispersion.  


  • Optimizes ultrasonic transducer and sensor acquisition configurations that reduce clutter interference with desired shear-wave signals
  • Implements adaptive beam-forming signal processing techniques that compensate for the effects of complex heterogeneity in body tissue and bone on ultrasonic wave propagation
  • Explores transducer and receiver design concept that enable light weight, portable, and non-contact excitation and vibration sensing such as laser vibrometry