Fast Volumetric Imaging Using a Matrix Transesophageal Echocardiography Probe with Partitioned Transmit–Receive Array

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We describe a 3-D multiline parallel beamforming scheme for real-time volumetric ultrasound imaging using a prototype matrix transesophageal echocardiography probe with diagonally diced elements and separated transmit and receive arrays. The elements in the smaller rectangular transmit array are directly wired to the ultrasound system. The elements of the larger square receive aperture are grouped in 4 × 4-element sub-arrays by micro-beamforming in an application-specific integrated circuit. We propose a beamforming sequence with 85 transmit–receive events that exhibits good performance for a volume sector of 60° × 60°. The beamforming is validated using Field II simulations, phantom measurements and in vivo imaging. The proposed parallel beamforming achieves volume rates up to 59Hz and produces good-quality images by angle-weighted combination of overlapping sub-volumes. Point spread function, contrast ratio and contrast-to-noise ratio in the phantom experiment closely match those of the simulation. In vivo 3-D imaging at 22-Hz volume rate in a healthy adult pig clearly visualized the cardiac structures, including valve motion.