Abstract for treece_thesis

PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge


Graham Treece

November 2000

Three-dimensional (3D) acquisition and visualisation techniques are increasingly being incorporated into commercial ultrasound scanners. The diagnostic benefit of such techniques is not yet convincing, compared to the added inconvenience of using them. Although it is straightforward to use special probes to acquire 3D data, these are more restrictive than conventional 2D probes. The only 3D technique which retains the scanning flexibility and wide area of application of 2D ultrasound, is freehand 3D ultrasound, where a 2D probe is moved manually and its location sensed remotely. However, it is hard to generate a regular volume of data from the resulting non-parallel ultrasound images.

Probably the largest body of evidence justifying the use of 3D ultrasound relates to the accurate measurement of volume. However, volume measurement with 3D ultrasound requires segmentation (i.e. outlining of the area of interest), which is a time consuming, manual task. Both this problem, and that of creating a regular volume of data, are eased by the use of sequential freehand 3D ultrasound, a recent technique amplified in this thesis, where all the processing is performed on the original ultrasound images. Thus a regular array of data is not required, and segmentation is performed on images whose features and artifacts are recognisable to the clinician.

In this thesis, novel volume measurement and surface visualisation algorithms are developed for sequential freehand 3D ultrasound. A particular emphasis is placed on limiting the number of segmented cross-sections required for a given measurement accuracy. Inherent accuracy is demonstrated by simulation to be within +/-2%, from 10 or fewer cross-sections. In-vivo precision, including registration and segmentation errors, is shown to be within +/-7%, even on complicated objects such as the liver or a foetus, from similar numbers of cross-sections. The volume can be updated in real-time as each image is segmented, and surfaces can be interpolated and visualised within a few seconds. Such visualisation can reveal errors in the segmentation which are otherwise hard to see.

In addition, a framework for multiple-sweep data is developed, which allows volume measurement and surface visualisation of anatomy that can only be scanned by several sweeps of the ultrasound probe. Accurate volume measurements can therefore be made of all areas observable by conventional ultrasound. These measurements can be accomplished within approximately 5 minutes of examining the patient.

The surface visualisation algorithms can also produce high quality renderings of data from a wide range of sources in medical imaging and other fields. The interpolation of cross-sections is an improvement on shape-based interpolation, and the triangular mesh created from the data is of a much higher quality than that using marching cubes. An extension of the surface interpolation algorithm can also be used to gradually change, or `morph' one 3D surface to another, a technique commonly used in the film industry.

Keywords: freehand 3D ultrasound, volume measurement, surface from cross-sections, isosurface triangulation, volume metamorphosis.

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