"Comprehensive Experimental Assessments of Rheological Models’ Performance in Elastography of Soft Tissues"

July 1, 2022

A paper co-authored by PhD student Sedy Poul, MD/PhD student Gary Ge, former PhD student/postdoctoral associate Dr. Juvenal Ormachea (currently with Verasonics, Inc.), and Professor Kevin Parker titled "Comprehensive experimental assessments of rheological models’ performance in elastography of soft tissues" has been published in Acta BioMaterialia. The abstract follows; more information can be found here.

Abstract: Elastography researchers have utilized several rheological models to characterize soft tissue viscoelasticity over the past thirty years. Due to the frequency-dependent behavior of viscoelastic parameters as well as the different techniques and frequencies employed in various studies of soft tissues, rheological models have value in standardizing disparate techniques via explicit mathematical representations. However, the important question remains: which of the several available models should be considered for widespread adoption within a theoretical framework? We address this by evaluating the performance of three well established rheological models to characterize ex vivo bovine liver tissues: the Kelvin-Voigt (KV) model as a 2-parameter model, and the standard linear solid (SLS) and Kelvin-Voigt fractional derivative (KVFD) models as 3-parameter models. The assessments were based on the analysis of time domain behavior (using stress relaxation tests) and frequency domain behavior (by measuring shear wave speed (SWS) dispersion). SWS was measured over a wide range of frequency from 1 Hz to 1 kHz using three different tests: (i) harmonic shear tests using a rheometer, (ii) reverberant shear wave (RSW) ultrasound elastography scans, and (iii) RSW optical coherence elastography scans, with each test targeting a distinct frequency range. Our results demonstrated that the KVFD model produces the only mutually consistent rendering of time and frequency domain data for liver. Furthermore, it reduces to a 2-parameter model for liver (correspondingly to a 2-parameter “spring-pot” or power-law model for SWS dispersion) and provides the most accurate predictions of the material viscoelastic behavior in time (>98% accuracy) and frequency (>96% accuracy) domains.