A 3D ultrasound scanning system for image guided liver interventions
Two-dimensional ultrasound (2D US) imaging is commonly used for diagnostic and intraoperative guidance of interventional liver procedures; however, 2D US lacks volumetric information that may benefit interventional procedures. Over the past decade, three-dimensional ultrasound (3D US) has been developed to provide the missing spatial information. 3D US image acquisition is mainly based on mechanical, electromagnetic, and freehand tracking of conventional 2D US transducers, or 2D array transducers available on high-end machines. These approaches share many problems during clinical use for interventional liver imaging due to lack of flexibility and compatibility with interventional equipment, limited field-of-view (FOV), and significant capital cost compared to the benefits they introduce. In this paper, a novel system for mechanical 3D US scanning is introduced to address these issues.
The authors have developed a handheld mechanical 3D US system that incorporates mechanical translation and tilt sector sweeping of any standard 2D US transducer to acquire 3D images. Each mechanical scanning function can be operated independently or may be combined to allow for a hybrid wide FOV acquisition. The hybrid motion mode facilitates registration of other modalities (e.g., CT or MRI) to the intraoperative 3D US images by providing a larger FOV in which to acquire anatomical information. The tilting mechanism of the developed mover allows image acquisition in the intercostal rib space to avoid acoustic shadowing from bone. The geometric and volumetric scanning validity of the 3D US system was evaluated on tissue mimicking US phantoms for different modes of operation. Identical experiments were performed on a commercially available 3D US system for direct comparison. To replicate a clinical scenario, the authors evaluated their 3D US system by comparing it to CT for measurement of angle and distance between interventional needles in different configurations, similar to those used for percutaneous ablation of liver tumors.
The mean geometrical hybrid 3D reconstruction error measured from scanning of a known string phantom was less than 1 mm in two directions and 2.5 mm in the scanning direction, which was comparable or better than the same measurements obtained from a commercially available 3D US system. The error in volume measurements of spherical phantom models depended on depth of the object. For a 20 cm3 model at a depth of 15 cm, a standard depth for liver imaging, the mean error was 3.6% ± 4.5% comparable to the 2.3% ± 1.8% error for the 3D US commercial system. The error in 3D US measurement of the tip distance and angle between two microwave ablation antennas inserted into the phantom was 0.9 ± 0.5 mm and 1.1° ± 0.7°, respectively.
A 3D US system with hybrid scanning motions for large field-of-view 3D abdominal imaging has been developed and validated. The superior spatial information provided by 3D US might enhance image-guidance for percutaneous interventional treatment of liver malignancies. The system has potential to be integrated with other liver procedures and has application in other abdominal organs such as kidneys, spleen, or adrenals.