Fused echoes see whole heart

August 11, 2010

A new way of combining ultrasound images taken from different positions can result in sharper, better quality 3D images of the heart to help doctors make a diagnosis.

The new technique aims to improve on conventional 3D echocardiography which is not yet routinely used, partly because of problems with the quality of images produced and difficulties in imaging the whole heart.

A team of Oxford University biomedical engineers and cardiologists has developed a way of merging 3D data from ultrasound transducers placed in different positions on a patient’s body. 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 .

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.

‘This new approach is an exciting advance in echocardiography, as it enables us to see the sort of complete picture we weren’t able to before,’ Harald explains. ‘For instance, in this study a number of the participants were Oxford rowers with very large left ventricles which could not be imaged from a single position. By fusing our data we were able to produce accurate three-dimensional images of the entire heart within seconds.’

The team say these preliminary results are encouraging, although further studies are needed with larger groups of patients. The researchers hope their approach could lead to a greater use of 3D echocardiography in the future and are currently looking at how it could be combined with other imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging.

Explore further: World's Highest Resolution 3D Images

More information: imaging.onlinejacc.org/cgi/content/abstract/3/7/682

Related Stories

World's Highest Resolution 3D Images

August 31, 2004

NEC Corporation today announced that it has succeeded in the development of a novel 3D system-on-glass ("SOG") liquid crystal display ("LCD") that can display the world's highest resolution 3D images. NEC's original Horizontally ...

Duke engineers develop new 3-D cardiac imaging probe

May 26, 2005

Biomedical engineers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering have created a new three-dimensional ultrasound cardiac imaging probe. Inserted inside the esophagus, the probe creates a picture of the whole heart in ...

Cardiac ultrasound imaging goes to handheld

September 2, 2008

Non-invasive imaging has revolutionized the diagnosis of the most common cardiac diseases such as valve problems and coronary heart disease. In addition, imaging techniques are developing rapidly and we anticipate that non-invasive ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.