Kathryn R Nightingale

Kathryn Radabaugh Nightingale

James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The goals of our laboratory are to investigate and improve ultrasonic imaging methods for clinically-relevant problems. We do this through theoretical, experimental, and simulation methods. The main focus of our recent work is the development of novel, acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI)-based elasticity imaging methods to generate images of the mechanical properties of tissue, involving interdisciplinary research in ultrasonics and tissue biomechanics. We have access to the engineering interfaces of several commercial ultrasound systems which allows us to design, rapidly prototype, and experimentally demonstrate custom sequences to explore novel beamforming and imaging concepts. We employ FEM modeling methods to simulate the behavior of tissues during mechanical excitation, and we have integrated these tools with ultrasonic imaging modeling tools to simulate the ARFI imaging process. We maintain strong collaborations with the Duke University Medical Center where we work to translate our technologies to clinical practice. The ARFI imaging technologies we have developed have served as the basis for commercial imaging technologies that are now being used in clinics throughout the world.  We are also studying the risks and benefits of increasing acoustic output energy for specific clinical imaging scenarios, with the goal of improving ultrasonic image quality in the difficult-to-image patient.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • James L. and Elizabeth M. Vincent Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1997
  • B.S. Duke University, 1989

Research Interests

Ultrasonic and elasticity imaging, specifically nonlinear propagation, acoustic streaming and radiation force; the intentional generation of these phenomena for the purpose of tissue characterization; finite element modeling of normal and diseased tissue when exposed to ultrasound, and performing both phantom and clinical experiments investigating these phenomena. Other areas of interest include prostate imaging, abdmoninal imaging, image-guided therapies, and the bioeffects of ultrasound.


Medical Imaging
Medical Diagnostics
Ultrasound imaging

Courses Taught

  • BME 271: Signals and Systems
  • BME 354L: Introduction to Medical Instrumentation
  • BME 394: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 493: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 494: Projects in Biomedical Engineering (GE)
  • BME 542: Principles of Ultrasound Imaging (GE, IM)
  • BME 790: Advanced Topics for Graduate Students in Biomedical Engineering
  • BME 899: Special Readings in Biomedical Engineering

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Lee, SY; Cardones, AR; Doherty, J; Nightingale, K; Palmeri, M, Preliminary Results on the Feasibility of Using ARFI/SWEI to Assess Cutaneous Sclerotic Diseases., Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, vol 41 no. 11 (2015), pp. 2806-2819 [abs].
  • Rouze, NC; Palmeri, ML; Nightingale, KR, An analytic, Fourier domain description of shear wave propagation in a viscoelastic medium using asymmetric Gaussian sources., The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol 138 no. 2 (2015), pp. 1012-1022 [abs].
  • Deng, Y; Palmeri, ML; Rouze, NC; Rosenzweig, SJ; Abdelmalek, MF; Nightingale, KR, Analyzing the Impact of Increasing Mechanical Index and Energy Deposition on Shear Wave Speed Reconstruction in Human Liver., Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, vol 41 no. 7 (2015), pp. 1948-1957 [abs].
  • Nightingale, KR; Church, CC; Harris, G; Wear, KA; Bailey, MR; Carson, PL; Jiang, H; Sandstrom, KL; Szabo, TL; Ziskin, MC, Conditionally Increased Acoustic Pressures in Nonfetal Diagnostic Ultrasound Examinations Without Contrast Agents: A Preliminary Assessment., Journal of ultrasound in medicine : official journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine, vol 34 no. 7 (2015), pp. 1-41 [abs].
  • Ferraioli, G; Filice, C; Castera, L; Choi, BI; Sporea, I; Wilson, SR; Cosgrove, D; Dietrich, CF; Amy, D; Bamber, JC; Barr, R; Chou, YH; Ding, H; Farrokh, A; Friedrich-Rust, M; Hall, TJ; Nakashima, K; Nightingale, KR; Palmeri, ML; Schafer, F; Shiina, T; Suzuki, S; Kudo, M, WFUMB guidelines and recommendations for clinical use of ultrasound elastography: Part 3: liver., Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology, vol 41 no. 5 (2015), pp. 1161-1179 [abs].