The study of ultrasound contrast agent imaging (USCAI) based on plane waves has recently attracted increasing attention. A series of USCAI techniques have been developed to improve the imaging quality. Most of the existing methods enhance the contrast-to-tissue ratio (CTR) using the time-frequency spectrum differences between the tissue and ultrasound contrast agent (UCA) region. In this paper, a new USCAI method based on bubble region detection was proposed, in which the frequency difference as well as the dissimilarity of tissue and UCA in the spatial domain was taken into account. A bubble wavelet based on the Doinikov model was firstly constructed. Bubble wavelet transformation (BWT) was then applied to strengthen the UCA region and weaken the tissue region. The bubble region was thereafter detected by using the combination of eigenvalue and eigenspace-based coherence factor (ESBCF). The phantom and rabbit in vivo experiment results suggested that our method was capable of suppressing the background interference and strengthening the information of UCA. For the phantom experiment, the imaging CTR was improved by 10.1 dB compared with plane wave imaging based on delay-and-sum (DAS) and by 4.2 dB over imaging based on BWT on average. Furthermore, for the rabbit kidney experiment, the corresponding improvements were 18.0 dB and 3.4 dB, respectively.
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