SBIR Phase I: Distributed Adaptive Beamforming for Medical Ultrasound Breast Cancer Screening

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Clarisond Inc
35 Railroad Row STE 101
White River Junction, VT 05001
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project seeks to develop a proof-of-concept distributed signal processing system that incorporates real-time adaptive beamforming to increase medical ultrasound imaging resolution and depth of penetration into tissue. Present technology for ultrasound imaging using phased arrays incorporates traditional delay-and-sum beamforming for adding signals from an ultrasound probe coherently. Delays are calculated from an average speed of sound in tissue and the expected round-trip time of a signal emitted by each sensor element given the location in the tissue on which the beam is focused. Fixed delays result in point spread, limiting the depth of penetration of the ultrasound signal into tissue, resulting in poor selectivity (false positives), and thus impacting clinical effectiveness. The objective of this project is to develop a distributed, adaptive approach to beamforming, evaluate the approach numerically, develop prototype signal processing hardware that proves real-time throughput is achievable for a small number of channels, and prove scalability of the associated signal processing hardware to very large arrays thereby increasing sensitivity and selectivity of ultrasound imaging. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project extends from improved image quality, providing a viable screening technology for the 26 million women who have mammographically dense breast tissue. It is expected to reduce the number of missed lesions (false negatives) with fewer false positives therefore reducing the number of unnecessary biopsies performed based on current screening technologies. Early detection of cancer in these women will lead to early interventions, saving lives and reducing cost of care, and requiring less invasive treatment by avoiding radiation and chemotherapy. While the innovation is targeted initially to screening ultrasound for breast imaging, the technology is a platform and thus commercial potential extends to other ultrasound procedures (e.g., cardiology, prostate cancer screening, vascular imaging), which also will benefit from improved resolution and depth of penetration.