Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2009

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

James Miller


This Dissertation presents quantitative ultrasonic measurements of the myocardium in fetal hearts and adult human hearts with the goal of studying the physics of sound waves incident upon anisotropic and inhomogeneous materials. Ultrasound has been used as a clinical tool to assess heart structure and function for several decades. The clinical usefulness of this noninvasive approach has grown with our understanding of the physical mechanisms underlying the interaction of ultrasonic waves with the myocardium. In this Dissertation, integrated backscatter and attenuation analyses were performed on midgestational fetal hearts to assess potential differences in the left and right ventricular myocardium. The hearts were interrogated using a 50 MHz transducer that enabled finer spatial resolution than could be achieved at more typical clinical frequencies. Ultrasonic data analyses demonstrated different patterns and relative levels of backscatter and attenuation from the myocardium of the left ventricle and the right ventricle. Ultrasonic data of adult human hearts were acquired with a clinical imaging system and quantified by their magnitude and time delay of cyclic variation of myocardial backscatter. The results were analyzing using Bayes Classification and ROC analysis to quantify potential advantages of using a combination of two features of cyclic variation of myocardial backscatter over using only one or the other feature to distinguish between groups of subjects. When the subjects were classified based on hemoglobin A1c, the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, and the ratio of triglyceride to high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, differences in the magnitude and normalized time delay of cyclic variation of myocardial backscatter were observed. The cyclic variation results also suggested a trend toward a larger area under the ROC curve when information from magnitude and time delay of cyclic variation is combined using Bayes classification than when each feature is analyzed individually. Ultrasound continues to be a powerful tool that enables noninvasive quantification of material properties. The studies in this Dissertation show that understanding the physical mechanisms behind the interaction of sound waves with myocardium can reveal new information about the structure, composition and overall state of the heart.


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