This study concerns the development and preliminary experimental verification of a topological sensitivity–based platform for the material characterization of tissue anomalies exposed by vibroacoustography-type imaging techniques. Vibroacoustography (VA) is a high-resolution imaging method that has been applied to the detection of pathological changes in soft tissues. Although the data provided by this method is related to the mechanical properties of tissue, the viscoelastic parameters of the object cannot be estimated by this imaging method itself. Topological sensitivity (TS) method is a data processing methodology that can be used to estimate the viscoelastic parameters of an object from vibration data. In this study, the concept of topological sensitivity is applied to interpret the vibroacoustography measurements for the purpose of lesion characterization. In the proposed approach, the topological sensitivity function, which signifies the variation of a given cost functional when an infinitesimal inclusion with trial material parameters is placed at the location of a point force, is formulated in terms of the adjoint field. The effectiveness of the resulting formula as a material indicator for lesion characterization is demonstrated by estimating the relative elastic parameters of a well-controlled neoprene sphere embedded in a tissue-mimicking phantom specimen.

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