Resolution and penetration are primary criteria for image quality of diagnostic ultrasound. In theory (and usually in practice), the maximum depth of imaging in a tissue increases as power (pressure) is increased. Alternatively, at a particular effective penetration, an increased power may be used to allow a higher ultrasound frequency for higher resolution and tissue contrast. Recently, Karagoz and Kartal proposed a safety parameter for thermal bioeffects of diagnostic ultrasound; that is, SUT (safe use time). The SUT model is constructed to determine how long one piece of tissue can be insonated safely according to a threshold exposure. Also, Karagoz and Kartal suggested that an increase in acoustic intensity beyond the current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit of intensity can be theoretically possible by using SUT model while staying within the safe limit. The present study was motivated particularly by the goals of higher resolution and/or deeper penetration by using SUT model. The results presented here suggest that the safe use of higher exposure levels than currently allowed by the FDA may be possible for obtaining substantial improvements in penetration depth and/or resolution. Also, the study reveals that image quality can be functionally related to exposure time in addition to acoustic energy and frequency.
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