Super-Resolution Ultrasound Localization Microscopy for Visualization of the Ocular Blood Flow

Xuejun Qian, Chengwu Huang, Runze Li, Brian J. Song, Hisham Tchelepi, K. Kirk Shung, Shigao Chen, Mark S. Humayun, Qifa Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The ocular vascular system plays an important role in preserving the visual function. Alterations in either anatomy or hemodynamics of the eye may have adverse effects on vision. Thus, an imaging approach that can monitor alterations of ocular blood flow of the deep eye vasculature ranging from capillary-level vessels to large supporting vessels would be advantageous for detection of early stage retinal and optic nerve diseases. Methods: We propose a super-resolution ultrasound localization microscopy (ULM) technique that can assess both the microvessel and flow velocity of the deep eye with high resolution. Ultrafast plane wave imaging was acquired using an L22-14v linear array on a high frequency Verasonics Vantage system. A robust microbubble localization and tracking technique was applied to reconstruct ULM images. The experiment was first performed on pre-designed flow phantoms in vitro and then tested on a New Zealand white rabbit eye in vivo calibrated to various intraocular pressures (IOP) - 10 mmHg, 30 mmHg and 50 mmHg. Results: We demonstrated that retinal/choroidal vessels, central retinal artery, posterior ciliary artery, and vortex vein were all visible at high resolution. In addition, reduction of vascular density and flow velocity were observed with elevated IOPs. Conclusion: These results indicate that super-resolution ULM is able to image the deep ocular tissue while maintaining high resolution that is comparable with optical coherence tomography angiography. Significance: Capability to detect subtle changes of blood flow may be clinically important in detecting and monitoring eye diseases such as glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1585-1594
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • Ultrasound localization microscopy
  • hemodynamics
  • microbubble
  • ocular vasculature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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