Artifacts and Technical Considerations at Contrast-enhanced US

David T. Fetzer, Kanupriya Vijay, Melanie P. Caserta, Amber Patterson-Lachowicz, Nirvikar Dahiya, Shuchi K. Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Contrast-enhanced US (CEUS), similar to other radiologic modalities, requires specific technical considerations and is subject to image artifacts. These artifacts may affect examination quality, negatively impact diagnostic accuracy, and decrease user comfort when using this emerging technique. Some artifacts are related to commonly known gray-scale US artifacts that can also appear on the contrast-only image (tissue-subtracted image obtained with the linear responses from background tissues nulled). These may include acoustic shadowing and enhancement; reverberation, refraction, and reflection; and poor penetration. Other artifacts are exclusive to CEUS owing to the techniques used for contrast mode image generation and the unique properties of the microbubbles that constitute ultrasound-specific contrast agents (UCAs). UCA-related artifacts may appear on the contrast-only image, the gray-scale image, or various Doppler mode images. Artifacts related to CEUS may include nonlinear artifacts and unintentional microbubble destruction resulting in pseudowashout. The microbubbles themselves may result in specific artifacts such as pseudoenhancement, signal saturation, and attenuation and shadowing and can confound the use of color and spectral Doppler US. Identifying and understanding these artifacts and knowing how to mitigate them may improve the quality of the imaging study, increase user confidence, and improve patient care. The authors review the principles of UCAs and the sound-microbubble interaction, as well as the technical aspects of image generation. Technical considerations, including patient positioning, depth, acoustic window, and contrast agent dose, also are discussed. Specific artifacts are described, with tips on how to identify and, if necessary, apply corrective measures, with the goal of improving examination quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere220093
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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