High-accuracy ultrasound motion estimation has become an essential technique in blood flow imaging, elastography, and motion imaging of the heart wall. Speckle tracking has been one of the best motion estimators; however, conventional speckle-tracking methods neglect the effect of out-of-plane motion and deformation. Our proposed method assumes that the cross-correlation between a reference signal and a comparison signal depends on the spatio-temporal distance between the two signals. The proposed method uses the decrease in the cross-correlation value in a reference frame to compensate for the intrinsic error caused by out-of-plane motion and deformation without a priori information. The root-mean-square error of the estimated lateral tissue motion velocity calculated by the proposed method ranged from 6.4 to 34% of that using a conventional speckle-tracking method. This study demonstrates the high potential of the proposed method for improving the estimation of tissue motion using an ultrasound speckle-tracking method in medical diagnosis.
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