Volume flow measurements have always been the most desired ultrasound flow measurement. Unfortunately, such measreuments have been difficult to obtain or the accuray has been limited, and because of this, volume flow measurements are almost never used.
The preferred embodiment is useful in an ultrasound system for measuring the volume of fluid flow within a region of interest. In such an environment, ultrasound waves are transmitted to the vessel in transmit directions defining a scan plane, preferably by an ultrasound transducer. Data signals are generated in response to ultrasound waves backscattered from the fluid within the vessel. Velocity signals having velocity values representing components of velocity of the fluid flow in the scan plane are generated in response to data generated from the data signals. Portions of the data are correlated, and the rate of decorrelation of the portions is calculated. The volume of flow of the fluid is estimated in response to the velocity signals and the rate of decorrelation. The techniques preferably are implemented with an ultrasound transducer and a data processor.
By using the foregoing techniques, the volume of fluid flow in a vessel can be determined independent of scan angle and without making any assumptions about vessel shape or flow geometry. For example, the techniques permit true blood volume flow estimates without any of the assumptions typically made with the above-described prior methods. The techniques of the preferred embodiment can be incorporated into most of the standard ultrasound transducer array scanheads now on the market. The techniques are robust and can be implemented in real time.