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Novel ultrasound tools improve diagnostic imaging

A European initiative is improving ultrasound imaging analysis by developing tools that facilitate multi-planar views of the organ and two-dimensional (2D) plus time movies. Such techniques are expected to increase diagnosis precision and will open up new imaging applications.

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Diagnostic medicine relies on imaging techniques for structural and histological information. Growing needs for more accurate diagnosis necessitate the development of new tridimensional ultrasound tools for automated analysis of tissue characteristics and perfusion in volumes of interest. To this end, the EU has funded the project ‘Novel ultrasound-based tridimensional tools for structural and functional evaluation of volumes of interest in human organs’ (Uvolumes). Project partners have developed a tool for automated selection of areas and volumes which allows them to perform automated segmentation of the organ of interest. Current techniques have been improved through the methods of region merging segmentation and binary partition tree. An automated tool for the analysis of image and acoustic changes has been developed and successfully tested to discriminate white matter damage in a cohort of patients suffering subtle brain damage. The development of this tool will be exploited to improve the predictive capabilities in various conditions and test the ability to correlate not only with structural changes but also with functional data. One of the most important advances was the successful development of a robust algorithm which is expected to have a strong impact on medical and other fields of imaging. Scientists have used the previously developed fractional moving blood volume (FMBV) technique – where the amount of tissue containing moving blood is estimated by ultrasound – to come up with new methodologies and algorithms facilitating 3D and 4D examinations. Two-dimensional plus time movies have allowed a clear identification of systole and diastole peaks, and when tested on a new clinical application this perfusion technique allowed diagnosis of foetal anaemia. Uvolumes ongoing work to develop new techniques for 3D medical imaging promises to produce finer monitoring and increased precision in diagnostic applications. Enhanced diagnostic tools are essential for early disease detection and prevention.

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