When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Ultrasound (US) imaging is increasingly attracting the attention of both academic and industrial researchers due to being a real-time and nonionizing imaging modality. It is also less expensive and more portable compared to other medical imaging techniques. However, the granular appearance hinders the interpretation of US images, hindering its wider adoption. This granular appearance (also referred to as speckles) arises from the backscattered echo from microstructural components smaller than the ultrasound wavelength, which are called scatterers. While significant effort has been undertaken to reduce the appearance of speckles, they contain scatterer properties that are highly correlated with the microstructure of the tissue that can be employed to diagnose different types of disease. There are many properties that can be extracted from speckles that are clinically valuable, such as the elasticity and organization of scatterers. Analyzing the motion of scatterers in the presence of an internal or external force can be used to obtain the elastic properties of the tissue. The technique is called elastography and has been widely used to characterize the tissue. Estimating the scatterer organization (scatterer number density and coherent to diffuse scattering power) is also crucial as it provides information about tissue microstructure and potentially aids in disease diagnosis and treatment monitoring. This thesis proposes several deep learning-based methods to facilitate and improve the estimation of speckle motion and scatterer properties, potentially simplifying the interpretation of US images. In particular, we propose new methods for displacement estimation in Chapters 2 to 6 and introduce novel techniques in Chapters 7 to 11 to quantify scatterers’ number density and organization.