OBJECTIVE: In current surface acoustic wave (SAW) elastography field, wavelength-depth inversion model is a straightforward and widely used inversion model for depth-resolved elasticity profile reconstruction. However, the elasticity directly evaluated from the wavelength-depth relationship is biased. Thus, a new inversion model, termed weighted average phase velocity (WAPV) inversion model, is proposed to provide depth-resolved Young's modulus estimate with better accuracy.
METHODS: The forward model for SAW phase velocity dispersion curve generation was derived from the numerical simulations of SAWs in layered materials, and inversion was implemented by matching the measured phase velocity dispersion curve to the one generated from the forward model using the least squares fitting. Three two-layer agar phantoms with different top-layer thicknesses and one three-layer agar phantom were tested to validate the proposed inversion model. Then the model was demonstrated on human skin at various sites (palm, forearm and back of hand) in-vivo.
RESULTS: In multi-layered agar phantoms, depth-resolved elasticity estimates provided by the model have a maximal total inversion error of 15.2% per sample after inversion error compensation. In in-vivo human skin, the quantified bulk Young's moduli (palm: 212 ± 78 kPa; forearm: 32 ± 11 kPa and back of hand: 29 ± 8 kPa) are comparable to the reference values in the literature.
CONCLUSION: The WAPV inversion model can provide accurate depth-resolved Young's modulus estimates in layered biological soft tissues.
SIGNIFICANCE: The proposed model can predict depth-resolved elasticity in layered biological soft tissues with a reasonable accuracy which traditional wavelength-depth inversion model cannot provide.