Real Time 3D Ultrasound Imaging
Technology plays an essential role in shaping and developing the field of medicine. For instance, imaging technology like X-ray, magnetic resonance, and 3D ultrasound has enhanced doctors’ ability to diagnose for different diseases (Huang & Zeng, 2017). Among these imaging technologies, the use of real-time three-dimension (3D) ultrasound (US) has gained more attention in medical researchers in recent years. The ability of 3D ultrasound to interact and provide feedback that helps physicians acquire high-quality images in surgery enhance it to be widely used in clinical practices (Huang & Zeng, 2017). The 3D ultrasound allows physicians to view the arbitrary plane of reconstruction volumes and the panoramic view of a region of interest during the surgery. Besides, it helps the surgeon to ascertain whether they have placed a surgical instrument well within the area of interest or not.
The 3D ultrasound imaging technology is conducted in three stages; acquisition, reconstruction, and visualization. The acquisition stage refers to obtaining B scans or 3D images with relative positioning using 3D probes (Huang & Zeng, 2017). In comparison, the reconstruction stage helps to insert the collected 3D images into a predefined regular volume grid. Visualization refers to computing the voxel array in a precise manner, like volume rendering. Modern medication is entirely dependent on 3D visualization as the 3D medical imaging provides new accessible angles, resolution and details of all body parts for better understanding (Huang & Zeng, 2017). However, 3D ultrasound imaging has limitations that hinder it from functioning effectively, for example, assumptions in measurement of speed, time and distance of the objects, air effect, and probe effect. These challenges have a significant impact on the outcome of the patients medication. The paper discusses the importance and shortcomings of using 3D ultrasound in the medical field and its effect on both patients and health providers in the community and hospitals.
The benefits of real-time 3D ultrasound imaging include visualization of all the three image planes when analyzing the object. The physician chooses or tilts the plane to give a desired image of the region under investigation. The ability of 3D ultrasound to view the body’s internal organs in three dimensions to obtain virtual inner observation is fascinating, especially in medical imaging (Iommi, Hummel, & Figl, 2020). Besides, 3D imaging has enhanced physicians to navigate and acquire images from different planes, thus, enabling them to choose the most accurate model to work with. Even for a rapid random motion of organs like heart rates and maternal respiratory, real-time 3D ultrasound produces a quick review of the images (Huang & Zeng, 2017). It also detects the abnormalities of the fetus like Micrognathia and cleft lip. Besides, 3D ultrasound technology is widely used by surgeons to study anatomical boundaries of the structure during the surgical process as well as gynecologist and obstetrics in prenatal diagnosis of fetal and studying of the uterus or ovary evaluation due to its ability to visualize internal organs in three dimensions.
In addition, 3D ultrasound gives accurate volumes of structures that are not spherical but complex. The use of real-time 3D US enhances the storage of size acquired through digital means, which can be retrieved and be useful in post-processing and evaluation. Once the volumes are acquired using real-time 3D technology, the sinologist can navigate through the sizes and display any plane in any orientation (Huang & Zeng, 2017). Besides, using these volumes, the physician can turn objects around looking at various aspects of its surface. For instance, surface-rendering mode helps to display babyfaces in utero. Using the 3D volume imaging technique, doctors can choose to display the soft tissue surface or the skeletal of the fetus. It also enables patients to transfer the entire data to other medical centers for review and rescan for the tertiary consultant or use as an educational tool. Therefore, 3D imaging plays a significant role in acquiring and saving accurate volumes of the patient’s sonographic information because these volumes can be manipulated and reconstructed into different displays.
Moreover, 3D ultrasound enhances quality and speed of evaluation of tissues by applying different rendering algorithms in uncountable combinations that includes; slice rendering, volume rendering and surface rendering. For instance, the algorithm surface helps to improve the lesion’s visual on images that are parallel to the ultrasound probe and increases the sensitivity of high echoes of microcalcification type (Huang, & Zeng, 2017). Similarly, volume rendering provides a storage room for preserving all 3D image and data acquired from the tissue that can be easily accessed in future reference. Besides, each grayscale ultrasound volume is computed with a surface algorithm that reduces noise and speckles; thus, improving contrast. In addition, due to its quality visualization, real-time 3D ultrasound helps detect and give an image of musculoskeletal tissues that cannot be examined by traditional 2D US. For example, 3D US helps identify fractured bones, and enthesitis, requiring images of high quality.
Furthermore, 3D ultrasound imaging has reduced injury problems during scanning since less time is used. 3D ultrasound is made of transducer that bounces safe using soundwaves of organs to create an image of their structure. Physicians can move the sensor to different positions to examine different organs (Huang, & Zeng, 2017). This method is painless and possesses no risk of radiation or anesthesia, the procedures are fast, and test results are obtained within a short period. Also, using 3D ultrasound and biopsy doctors can diagnose cancer and reduce psychological trauma in surgery. Consequently, due to safety, portability, and dynamic imaging, three-dimensional ultrasound helps minimize surgical invasion during the operation of complicated organs like the brain or heart.
Like any other technology, 3D ultrasound has its common problems that need to be acknowledged. Both 2D and 3D ultrasound have the same principles that they use high-frequency sound waves to transmit waves into the body, in the presence of air between the probe and the body of the patients. The air prevents sufficient penetration of the waves into the body, which degrades the quality of the image (Camps, Fontanarosa, Verhaegen, & Vanneste, 2018). Thus, 3D construction depends on 2D image quality, which means that 3D ultrasound produces a rendered image that is as good as that of 2D. According to Camps, et al. (2018). the variation of ultrasound probe pressure applied by a different physician may change the prostate’s displacement that causes image variation. Besides, the use of an ultrasound probe during treatment can cause an error in delivering dose, which influences the treatment outcome of the patients. The researcher shows that when inquiry and the radiation field overlap, it produces variations in dosage near the surface of the phantom, thereby affecting the patient’s treatment.
Moreover, most 3D ultrasound used in hospitals assumes that the sound speed for all human soft tissues is constant with a value of 1540m/s. This assumption may be wrong; thus, producing an error in quantitative estimation of organ boundaries positions during the surgery (Camps, et al 2018). Besides, the 3D ultrasound system uses pulse-echo mode to estimate the depth of the structure being examined, by calculating the speed of sound of the tissue traversed by the pulse and time taken for the flight of the pulse. The calculation may have some errors that result in the wrong positioning of the tissue being examined. Also, 3D US is affected by the refraction of the sound wave at the phantom surface, especially when the probe is tilted during the diagnosis process; thus, resulting in different positioning by 0.5mm (Camps, et al. 2018). These differences may significantly influence the allocation of the position of image and treatment of the patient.
However, the use of three-dimension ultrasound imaging has had a significant impact on the medical field today. Its benefits have spread worldwide across the field of medicine; not only has it brought a pleasant working environment, but also it has enhanced a good relationship between the patients and the physician. This is because the 3D ultrasound produces high-quality images that enable doctors to determine the right medication for their patients. Besides, the 3D US gives accurate volume information of the structure examined, thereby helping doctors to consult with other experienced physicians on the medication they should offer.
Furthermore, due to the vast benefits of 3D ultrasound, it offers to the medical clinic it’s applied in the various medical field. For instance, it is used as an image guide in surgery, ultrasound guide in radiotherapy planning, image guide in the biopsy. According to Horowitz (2018), the medication area is changing abruptly with emerging new technologies; the future of medication revolves around computation and more intensive computer power. The use of artificial intelligence and cloud will improve the quality and shorten the image’s acquisition even further.
In general, real-time 3D ultrasound imaging has brought a significant change in the field of medicine. Its ability to produce a quality image quickly and give accurate volume information as well as the position of the object tissue being examined makes it an essential system that is demandable by all fields of medicine. Also, 3D US reduces injury problems due to its speed in scanning; it uses unlimited rendering algorithms for calculating measurements, its less dependent on the operator, among others. These advantages make a 3D ultrasound useful in different fields such as surgery, cardiologist, and gynecologist. However, like any other technology, 3D ultrasound imaging has its limitation, such as using assumptions in calculating the position of the object examined, not giving clear images due to the presence of air between probe and body of the patient, and many more. Despite these challenges, it’s essential to acknowledge the effectiveness of real-time 3D ultrasound imaging in medicine, since a broader range of clinicians depends on this technology for quality visual and accurate data that are easily accessed for other purposes.
Camps, S. M., Fontanarosa, D., Verhaegen, F., & Vanneste, B. G. (2018). The use of ultrasound imaging in the external beam radiotherapy workflow of prostate cancer patients. BioMed research international, 2018.
Horowitz, B. (2018). How 3D Technology Is Transforming Medical Imaging. Retrieved 9 July 2020, from https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2018/07/how-3d-technology-transforming-medical-imaging-perfcon
Huang, Q., & Zeng, Z. (2017). A review of real-time 3D ultrasound imaging technology. BioMed research international, 2017.
Iommi, D., Hummel, J., & Figl, M. L. (2020). Evaluation of 3D ultrasound for image guidance. PloS one, 15(3), e0229441.