Thursday video: US team creates 3D images on 2D ultrasound machine

This week’s video comes from the US where a 2D ultrasound machine has undergone a low-cost modification that transforms it into a 3D imaging system.


With low-cost 3D printed materials, a microchip common to smartphones, a few wires and a laptop, a 2D ultrasound machine can capture 3D images of infants’ brains, for example, with similar quality to MRI or CT scans while the baby is held in a parent’s arms.

The development from doctors and engineers from Duke University and Stanford University was presented on October 31, 2017, at the American College of Emergency Physicians Research Forum.

“With 2D technology you see a visual ‘slice’ of an organ, but without any context, you may mistake it for another part, or mistake one disease process or injury for another,” said Joshua Broder, MD, emergency physician and director of the emergency medicine residency program at the Duke University School of Medicine.

“These are all problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.”

As the video shows, the prototype includes a 3D printed harness that snaps on to the ultrasound probe to attach a position tracking microchip. That harness then snaps into one of several platforms that restricts its movement to a single axis of rotation.

According to Duke University, the microchip is connected to a computer via a USB cord, while the ultrasound device is connected through any type of visual cord. As long as the ultrasound machine has a video output, the new device can upgrade it to three dimensions.

The invention is currently being tested in clinical trials at Duke and Stanford.


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