The 'sixth sense' of ultrasound: Probing nonlinear elasticity with acoustic radiation force

Bojan B. Guzina, Egor V. Dontsov, Matthew W. Urban, Mostafa Fatemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Prompted by a recent finding that the magnitude of the acoustic radiation force (ARF) in isotropic tissue-like solids depends linearly on a particular third-order modulus of elasticity - hereon denoted by C, this study investigates the possibility of estimating C from the amplitude of the ARF-generated shear waves. The featured coefficient of nonlinear elasticity, which captures the incipient nonlinear interaction between the volumetric and deviatoric modes of deformation, has so far received only a limited attention in the context of soft tissues due to the fact that the latter are often approximated as (i) fluid-like when considering ultrasound waves, and (ii) incompressible under static deformations. On establishing the analytical and computational platform for the proposed sensing methodology, the study proceeds with applying the prototype technique toward estimating via ARF the third-order modulus C in a series of tissue-mimicking phantoms. To help validate the concept and its implementation, the germane third-order modulus is independently estimated in each phantom via an established technique known as acoustoelasticity. The C-estimates obtained respectively via acoustoelasticity and the new theory of ARF show a significant degree of consistency. The key features of the new sensing methodology are that: (a) it requires no external deformation of a material other than that produced by the ARF, and (b) it estimates the nonlinear C-modulus locally, over the focal region of an ultrasound beam - where the shear waves are being generated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3775-3794
Number of pages20
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 7 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.


  • acoustic radiation force
  • nonlinear elasticity
  • tissue-like solids


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