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In IEEE transactions on medical imaging ; h5-index 74.0

Ultrasound Localization Microscopy can resolve the microvascular bed down to a few micrometers. To achieve such performance microbubble contrast agents must perfuse the entire microvascular network. Microbubbles are then located individually and tracked over time to sample individual vessels, typically over hundreds of thousands of images. To overcome the fundamental limit of diffraction and achieve a dense reconstruction of the network, low microbubble concentrations must be used, which lead to acquisitions lasting several minutes. Conventional processing pipelines are currently unable to deal with interference from multiple nearby microbubbles, further reducing achievable concentrations. This work overcomes this problem by proposing a Deep Learning approach to recover dense vascular networks from ultrasound acquisitions with high microbubble concentrations. A realistic mouse brain microvascular network, segmented from 2-photon microscopy, was used to train a three-dimensional convolutional neural network based on a V-net architecture. Ultrasound data sets from multiple microbubbles flowing through the microvascular network were simulated and used as ground truth to train the 3D CNN to track microbubbles. The 3D-CNN approach was validated in silico using a subset of the data and in vivo on a rat brain acquisition. In silico, the CNN reconstructed vascular networks with higher precision (81%) than a conventional ULM framework (70%). In vivo, the CNN could resolve micro vessels as small as 10 μm with an increase in resolution when compared against a conventional approach.

Milecki Leo, Poree Jonathan, Belgharbi Hatim, Bourquin Chloe, Damseh Rafat, Delafontaine-Martel Patrick, Lesage Frederic, Gasse Maxime, Provost Jean