Ultrasound B-mode imaging based on log-compressed envelope data has been widely applied to examine hepatic steatosis. Modeling raw backscattered signals returned from the liver parenchyma by using statistical distributions can provide additional information to assist in hepatic steatosis diagnosis. Since raw data are not always available in modern ultrasound systems, information entropy, which is a widely known nonmodel-based approach, may allow ultrasound backscattering analysis using B-scan for assessing hepatic steatosis. In this study, we explored the feasibility of using ultrasound entropy imaging constructed using log-compressed backscattered envelopes for assessing hepatic steatosis. Different stages of hepatic steatosis were induced in male Wistar rats fed with a methionine- and choline-deficient diet for 0 (i.e., normal control) and 1, 1.5, and 2 weeks (n
= 48; 12 rats in each group). In vivo scanning of rat livers was performed using a commercial ultrasound machine (Model 3000, Terason, Burlington, MA, USA) equipped with a 7-MHz linear array transducer (Model 10L5, Terason) for ultrasound B-mode and entropy imaging based on uncompressed (HE
image) and log-compressed envelopes (HB
image), which were subsequently compared with histopathological examinations. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis and areas under the ROC curves (AUC) were used to assess diagnostic performance levels. The results showed that ultrasound entropy imaging can be used to assess hepatic steatosis. The AUCs obtained from HE
imaging for diagnosing different steatosis stages were 0.93 (≥mild), 0.89 (≥moderate), and 0.89 (≥severe), respectively. HB
imaging produced AUCs ranging from 0.74 (≥mild) to 0.84 (≥severe) as long as a higher number of bins was used to reconstruct the signal histogram for estimating entropy. The results indicated that entropy use enables ultrasound parametric imaging based on log-compressed envelope signals with great potential for diagnosing hepatic steatosis.
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