We have four Working Groups: 2D-to-3D Mapping; 3D-Reconstructions; Clinical Verification; and Reports on Standards. Sequences of 2-D scans from free-hand and radial-matrix ultrasound scanning systems, together with associated proprioceptive information, will be used to construct three-dimensional voxel representations of the uterus and its contents. Two outreach centres will transmit such ultrasound scans to the co-ordinating centre where, in collaboration with the two engineering centres, these images will be transformed into data sets in 3-D voxel space. From this data, 3-D images will then be constructed, and sent back to the remote centre, using conventional telecommunication networks. Further into the SOLUS-3D Project, the co-ordinating centreÆs system will become operational in real time. Following this, software will be delivered to remote centres, giving them a real-time facility too. In other words, SOLUS-3D will deliver a working Virtual Reality system, in which obstetricians will observe an optical illusion (but seeming quite real) of a three-dimensional fetus, suspended and slowly rotating, in mid-air. Modular systems involved will be rigorously tested on phantoms and pregnant women, and standards will be prepared. Each working groupÆs output will be directly relevant to the definition of technical and clinical standards.
Three-dimensional (3-D) ultrasound imaging is a new medical technology, which is still in the early stages of its development. Unfortunately, there are two principal difficulties in constructing ultrasound images in three dimensions: poor signal-to-noise, and lack of appropriate proprioceptive information. Nevertheless, 3-D images have the advantage of being seen from whatever angle the clinician may desire. Providing these difficulties can be overcome, 3-D imaging will find a considerable number of applications in medicine, and this will improve diagnostic standards. However, underlying technical standards are important too. Unfortunately, there are very few international technical standards for 3-D ultrasound.
There are a number of modular steps in constructing a 3-D ultrasound image: 2D - to - 3D æMappingÆ (or Transformation), 3-D æRenderingÆ (or Reconstruction), Visual Presentation, and then Clinical Interpretation. Finally, all 3-D ultrasound systems must be capable of rigorous calibration against known æin vivoÆ standards. This is so important in medicine, where a æpretty 3-D pictureÆ may be dangerous if it is invalid. International standards exist for none of these modules, as yet. The SOLUS-3D Project is uniquely capable of addressing (and solving) these problems. Apart from obvious medical benefits of having reliable 3-D ultrasound systems, there are many social and economic advantages, as will be explained.
The participants in the SOLUS-3D consortium, between them, have considerable experience of participating in other European collaborative research projects. Moreover, they have considerable experience in high risk obstetrics, obstetrical ultrasound - including 3-D, information engineering, 2D-to-3D mapping, 3D-rendering, and the interpretation of 3-D images from CT scans, MRI scans, and even 3-D ultrasound scans. The SOLUS-3D Project spans eight countries, and three participants sit on international standards bodies.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
3015 GD Rotterdam
EH3 9YW Edinburgh