Research Projects

Low-Cost 3D Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging is a powerful tool for many diagnoses across medicine, but it is currently limited by selectively sampling cross-sectional planes—generally not aligned with anatomical axes—of a three-dimensional (3-D) structure.  The 2D image’s dependence on probe positioning and lack of cardinal orientation—transverse, coronal, and sagittal planes, which are standard in computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—makes ultrasound nonintuitive and challenging for untrained clinical users. 

We are working to overcome these limitations by developing low-cost, fast, and intuitive solutions that enable an unskilled user with a low-end ultrasound system to quickly and consistently acquire diagnostically useful 3-D ultrasound images with accurate anatomical orientation.  This promises to not only improve visualization and diagnosis, but also increase workflow and patient throughput, and have point-of-care application in virtually every field of medicine, for every patient population, in both the developed and developing world.

This project has been awarded a Stanford-Coulter Translational Research Grant, and also won the inaugural Point of Care Ultrasound (POCUS) Research Challenge, sponsored by the Emergency Medicine Foundation and GE Healthcare.

Figure 1: (left) Diagram: 3D volume acquisition sweep with probe fixture and orientation sensor; (right) diagram: 3D volume reconstruction method. The fixture establishes a pivot axis, and the sensor (box at top) returns orientation readings as the probe is tilted and the image plane (below) is swept through the body; each recorded 2D image plane is inserted into the 3D voxel according to its orientation reading.

Figure 2: In vivo volume acquisition of abdominal right-upper quadrant: multiplanar display (left) of three orthogonal planes (right). Partial segmentation of the liver vasculature is shown as a 3D overlay (in red) on the multiplanar display.

Collaboration: Duke University

Joshua S. Broder, M.D.

Josh is an Associate Professor of Surgery (Emergency Medicine) at the Duke University School of Medicine, and Residency Director in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.  He is an invaluable member of the team and has been instrumental to this project from its very conception, providing key clinical insights to guide our development and leading the charge on conducting our clinical studies at Duke University Medical Center.