Simulation of ultrasonic pulse propagation through the abdominal wall

T. Douglas Mast, Laura M. Hinkelman, Michael J. Orr, Victor W. Sparrow, Robert C. Waag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Ultrasonic pulse propagation through the human abdominal wall has been simulated using a model for two-dimensional propagation through anatomically realistic tissue cross sections. The time-domain equations for wave propagation in a medium of variable sound speed and density were discretized to obtain a set of coupled finite-difference equations. These difference equations were solved numerically using a two-step MacCormack scheme that is fourth-order accurate in space and second-order accurate in time. The inhomogeneous tissue of the abdominal wall was represented by two-dimensional matrices of sound speed and density values. These values were determined by processing scanned images of abdominal wall cross sections stained to identify connective tissue, muscle, and fat, each of which was assumed to have a constant sound speed and density. The computational configuration was chosen to simulate that of wavefront distortion measurements performed on the same specimens. Qualitative agreement was found between those measurements and the results of the present computations, indicating that the computational model correctly depicts the salient characteristics of ultrasonic wavefront distortion in vivo. However, quantitative agreement was limited by the two-dimensionality of the computation and the absence of detailed tissue microstructure. Calculations performed using an asymptotic straight-ray approximation showed good agreement with time-shift aberrations predicted by the full-wave method, but did not explain the amplitude fluctuations and waveform distortion found in the experiments and the full- wave calculations. Visualization of computed wave propagation within tissue cross sections suggests that amplitude fluctuations and waveform distortion observed in ultrasonic propagation through the abdominal wall are associated with scattering from internal inhomogeneities such as septa within the subcutaneous fat. These observations, as well as statistical analysis of computed and observed amplitude fluctuations, suggest that weak fluctuation models do not fully describe ultrasonic wavefront distortion caused by the abdominal wall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1190
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'Simulation of ultrasonic pulse propagation through the abdominal wall'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this