Faculty Advisor

Stephen J. Glick

Faculty Advisor

Michael A. Gennert

Faculty Advisor

Peder C. Pedersen

Faculty Advisor

Sergey N. Makarov

Abstract

"

A novel Markov Random Field (MRF) based method for the mosaicing of 3D ultrasound volumes is presented in this dissertation. The motivation for this work is the production of training volumes for an affordable ultrasound simulator, which offers a low-cost/portable training solution for new users of diagnostic ultrasound, by providing the scanning experience essential for developing the necessary psycho-motor skills. It also has the potential for introducing ultrasound instruction into medical education curriculums. The interest in ultrasound training stems in part from the widespread adoption of point-of-care scanners, i.e. low cost portable ultrasound scanning systems in the medical community.

This work develops a novel approach for producing 3D composite image volumes and validates the approach using clinically acquired fetal images from the obstetrics department at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). Results using the Visible Human Female dataset as well as an abdominal trauma phantom are also presented. The process is broken down into five distinct steps, which include individual 3D volume acquisition, rigid registration, calculation of a mosaicing function, group-wise non-rigid registration, and finally blending. Each of these steps, common in medical image processing, has been investigated in the context of ultrasound mosaicing and has resulted in improved algorithms. Rigid and non-rigid registration methods are analyzed in a probabilistic framework and their sensitivity to ultrasound shadowing artifacts is studied.

The group-wise non-rigid registration problem is initially formulated as a maximum likelihood estimation, where the joint probability density function is comprised of the partially overlapping ultrasound image volumes. This expression is simplified using a block-matching methodology and the resulting discrete registration energy is shown to be equivalent to a Markov Random Field. Graph based methods common in computer vision are then used for optimization, resulting in a set of transformations that bring the overlapping volumes into alignment. This optimization is parallelized using a fusion approach, where the registration problem is divided into 8 independent sub-problems whose solutions are fused together at the end of each iteration. This method provided a speedup factor of 3.91 over the single threaded approach with no noticeable reduction in accuracy during our simulations. Furthermore, the registration problem is simplified by introducing a mosaicing function, which partitions the composite volume into regions filled with data from unique partially overlapping source volumes. This mosaicing functions attempts to minimize intensity and gradient differences between adjacent sources in the composite volume.

Experimental results to demonstrate the performance of the group-wise registration algorithm are also presented. This algorithm is initially tested on deformed abdominal image volumes generated using a finite element model of the Visible Human Female to show the accuracy of its calculated displacement fields. In addition, the algorithm is evaluated using real ultrasound data from an abdominal phantom. Finally, composite obstetrics image volumes are constructed using clinical scans of pregnant subjects, where fetal movement makes registration/mosaicing especially difficult.

Our solution to blending, which is the final step of the mosaicing process, is also discussed. The trainee will have a better experience if the volume boundaries are visually seamless, and this usually requires some blending prior to stitching. Also, regions of the volume where no data was collected during scanning should have an ultrasound-like appearance before being displayed in the simulator. This ensures the trainee's visual experience isn't degraded by unrealistic images. A discrete Poisson approach has been adapted to accomplish these tasks. Following this, we will describe how a 4D fetal heart image volume can be constructed from swept 2D ultrasound. A 4D probe, such as the Philips X6-1 xMATRIX Array, would make this task simpler as it can acquire 3D ultrasound volumes of the fetal heart in real-time; However, probes such as these aren't widespread yet.

Once the theory has been introduced, we will describe the clinical component of this dissertation. For the purpose of acquiring actual clinical ultrasound data, from which training datasets were produced, 11 pregnant subjects were scanned by experienced sonographers at the UMMS following an approved IRB protocol. First, we will discuss the software/hardware configuration that was used to conduct these scans, which included some custom mechanical design. With the data collected using this arrangement we generated seamless 3D fetal mosaics, that is, the training datasets, loaded them into our ultrasound training simulator, and then subsequently had them evaluated by the sonographers at the UMMS for accuracy. These mosaics were constructed from the raw scan data using the techniques previously introduced. Specific training objectives were established based on the input from our collaborators in the obstetrics sonography group. Important fetal measurements are reviewed, which form the basis for training in obstetrics ultrasound. Finally clinical images demonstrating the sonographer making fetal measurements in practice, which were acquired directly by the Philips iU22 ultrasound machine from one of our 11 subjects, are compared with screenshots of corresponding images produced by our simulator. "

Publisher

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name

PhD

Department

Electrical & Computer Engineering

Project Type

Dissertation

Date Accepted

2014-08-27

Accessibility

Unrestricted

Subjects

Markov random fields, registration, ultrasound mosaicing, discrete graph based technique

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