The accurate assessment of local myocardial strain is important for diagnosing ischemic heart diseases because decreased myocardial motion often appears in the early stage. Calculating the spatial derivation of displacement is a necessary step in the strain calculation, but the numerical calculation is extremely sensitive to noise. Commonly used smoothing methods are the moving-average and median filters; however, these methods have a trade-off between spatial resolution and accuracy. A novel smoothing/fitting method is proposed for overcoming this problem. In this method, the detected displacement vectors are discretized at mesh nodes, and virtual springs are connected between adjacent nodes. By controlling the elasticity of the virtual springs, misdetected displacements are fitted without the above problem. Further improvements can be achieved by applying a Kalman filter for position tracking, and then calculating the strain from the accumulated displacement vectors. From the simulation results, we conclude that the proposed method improves the accuracy and spatial resolution of the strain images.
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