Researchers at Oxford University have developed a technique that combines live images from multiple ultrasound probes into one 3D image. The team used the method to image hearts of Oxford rowers that sport particularly large left ventricles. Because the hearts are so large, conventional 3D ultrasound devices are not able to capture them from one vantage point.
From an Oxford press release:
The researchers recently reported in the journal JACC Cardiovascular Imaging that, in a pilot study of 32 people, this boosted the quality of good/intermediate quality images of the heart from 70% with existing methods to over 96%.
‘For the first time we’ve shown in a detailed clinical study how fusion of 3D data from different positions can improve the quality and completeness of the final image,’ Alison Noble of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, a co-author of the report, tells me.
‘Our new technique saw significant improvements in the general image quality and the definition of features within the heart which should make it possible to spot even small abnormalities in, for example, the motion of the heart wall,’ adds Harald Becher of Oxford University’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine.
The team’s method is based on ‘voxels’ – 3D units of data similar to the 2D pixels on a TV screen. By matching similar-looking voxels of data from different positions it is possible to calculate the ‘best fit’ of a sequence of individual frames. This alignment is then applied first across ‘downgraded’ low-resolution images before these are ‘upgraded’ again to their original high-resolution – saving computation time.
Press release: Fused echoes see whole heart…
Abstract in JACC Cardiovascular Imaging: Real-Time 3D Fusion Echocardiography