Curvelet Transform-Based Sparsity Promoting Algorithm for Fast Ultrasound Localization Microscopy

Qi You, Joshua D. Trzasko, Matthew R. Lowerison, Xi Chen, Zhijie Dong, Nathiya Vaithiyalingam Chandrasekaran, Daniel A. Llano, Shigao Chen, Pengfei Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrasound localization microscopy (ULM) based on microbubble (MB) localization was recently introduced to overcome the resolution limit of conventional ultrasound. However, ULM is currently challenged by the requirement for long data acquisition times to accumulate adequate MB events to fully reconstruct vasculature. In this study, we present a curvelet transform-based sparsity promoting (CTSP) algorithm that improves ULM imaging speed by recovering missing MB localization signal from data with very short acquisition times. CTSP was first validated in a simulated microvessel model, followed by the chicken embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM), and finally, in the mouse brain. In the simulated microvessel study, CTSP robustly recovered the vessel model to achieve an 86.94% vessel filling percentage from a corrupted image with only 4.78% of the true vessel pixels. In the chicken embryo CAM study, CTSP effectively recovered the missing MB signal within the vasculature, leading to marked improvement in ULM imaging quality with a very short data acquisition. Taking the optical image as reference, the vessel filling percentage increased from 2.7% to 42.2% using 50ms of data acquisition after applying CTSP. CTSP used 80% less time to achieve the same 90% maximum saturation level as compared with conventional MB localization. We also applied CTSP on the microvessel flow speed maps and found that CTSP was able to use only 1.6s of microbubble data to recover flow speed images that have similar qualities as those constructed using 33.6s of data. In the mouse brain study, CTSP was able to reconstruct the majority of the cerebral vasculature using 1-2s of data acquisition. Additionally, CTSP only needed 3.2s of microbubble data to generate flow velocity maps that are comparable to those using 129.6s of data. These results suggest that CTSP can facilitate fast and robust ULM imaging especially under the circumstances of inadequate microbubble localizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2385-2398
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE transactions on medical imaging
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • Ultrasound localization microscopy
  • compressive sampling
  • curvelet transform
  • sparsity promoting
  • super-resolution imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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