Dispersive material properties provide valuable metrics for characterizing the nature of soft tissue lesions. Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE) targets non-invasive breast cancer diagnosis and is capable of imaging the damping properties of soft tissue. 3D time-harmonic displacement data obtained via MRI is used to drive a reconstruction algorithm capable of deducing the distribution of mechanical properties in the tissue. To make the most of this diagnostic capability, characterization of the damping behavior of tissue is made more sophisticated by the use of a Rayleigh damping model. To date, time-harmonic motion attenuation in tissue as found in dynamic MRE has been characterized by a single parameter model that takes the form of an imaginary component of a complex valued shear modulus. A more generalized damping formulation for the time-harmonic case, known commonly as Rayleigh or proportional damping, includes an additional parameter that takes the form of an imaginary component of a complex valued density. The effects of these two different damping mechanisms can be shown to be independent across homogeneous distributions and mischaracterization of the damping structure can be shown to lead to artifacts in the reconstructed attenuation profile. We have implemented a Rayleigh damping reconstruction method for MRE and measured the dispersive properties of actual patient data sets with impressive results. Reconstructions show a close match with varying tissue structure. The reconstructed values for real shear modulus and overall damping levels are in reasonable agreement with values established in the literature or measured by mechanical testing, and in the case of malignant lesions, show good correspondence with contrast enhanced MRI. There is significant medical potential for an algorithm that can accurately reconstruct soft tissue material properties through non invasive MRI scans. Imaging methods that help identify invasive regions through reconstruction of dispersive soft tissue properties could be applied to pathologies in the brain, lung, liver and kidney as well.

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