Correlation of histology and acoustic parameters of liver tissue on a microscopic scale

A. van der Steen, J. Thijssen, J. van der Laak, G. Ebben and P. de Wilde

Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology (1994)



The correlation of several acoustic parameters with histological features was investigated in healthy White New Zealander rabbit liver (n = 10). Thin sections (10 microns) were studied by means of a light microscope in combination with a digital image processing system. Adjacent thick sections (250 microns) were studied by means of a custom-designed acoustic microscope. Markers of black silk suture material, that could be identified both optically and acoustically, enabled the spatial correlation of both imaging modalities. Acoustic images were reconstructed from the velocity of ultrasound, the attenuation at the central frequency (30 MHz), the attenuation spectral slope, the backscatter spectral slope and the backscatter at the central frequency. The measurements comprised the frequency range from 10 to 50 MHz, yielding a resolution of approximately 50 microns. From the thin sections (10 microns) the local histological composition was obtained by digital segmentation techniques. The features that were segmented are: the collagen rich fibrous tissue content, the area lumina, the area interstitial spaces, the number density of nuclei and the area parenchymal tissue. Correlation techniques revealed that the main feature responsible for attenuation is collagen. There was a fair correlation between area lumina and attenuation, but this was caused by a high correlation between the collagen that surrounds the lumina, and attenuation. No correlation was found between any histological feature and backscatter parameters or velocity.