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Entropy of Ultrasound-Contrast-Agent Velocity Fields for Angiogenesis Imaging in Prostate Cancer

R. van Sloun, L. Demi, A. Postema, J. de la Rosette, H. Wijkstra, M. Mischi
IEEE Trans Med Imaging

Prostate cancer care can benefit from accurate and cost-efficient imaging modalities that are able to reveal prognostic indicators for cancer. Angiogenesis is known to play a central role in the growth of tumors towards a metastatic or a lethal phenotype. With the aim of localizing angiogenic activity in a non-invasive manner, Dynamic Contrast Enhanced Ultrasound (DCE-US) has been widely used. Usually, the passage of ultrasound contrast agents thought the organ of interest is  analyzed for the assessment of tissue perfusion. However, the heterogeneous nature of blood flow in angiogenic vasculature hampers the diagnostic effectiveness of perfusion parameters. In this regard, quantification of the heterogeneity of flow may provide a relevant additional feature for localizing angiogenesis. Statistics based on flow magnitude as well as its orientation can be exploited for this purpose. In this paper, we estimate the microbubble velocity vector fields from a standard bolus injection and provide a first statistical characterization by performing a spatial entropy analysis. By testing the method on 24 patients with biopsy-proven prostate cancer, we show that the proposed method can be applied effectively to clinically acquired DCE-US data. The method permits estimation of the in-plane flow vector fields and their local intricacy, and yields promising results (receiver-operating-characteristic curve area of 0.85) for the detection of prostate cancer.