Research

Co-Robotic Ultrasound Imaging

Recent advances in robotic technologies have provided new capabilities in advanced medical imaging that would not be otherwise possible. MUSiiC lab, as a subdivision of LCSR (Lab for Computational Sensing & Robotics), is a leader in advocating the integration of robotics with diagnostic ultrasound machines. Our current projects in this field include:

Robotic Ultrasound/Photoacoustic Tomography

Synthetic Aperture Robotic Ultrasound

Robotic Mirror Ultrasound Imagaing

Robot-Assisted Automatic Ultrasound Calibration

These low-cost, human-safe, and force-comply robot arms will have an outstanding impact on enhancing the image quality as in the co-robotic synthetic aperture imaging project; will enable quantitative ultrasound imaging as in the co-robotic tomography projects; will ensure fast and repeatable vascular imaging exams as in the co-robotic mirror. Most importantly, these force-controlled robots have the potential to shield sonographers from musculoskeletal injuries by providing functionality similar to “power steering” in car industry.

 

Advanced Ultrasound Imaging

In addition to cutting edge research, the MUSiiC lab constructs advanced hardware and software technologies. The BeeSpace mouse integrated motion tracking and video spatial-registration to initially obtain 3D ultrasound images. This technology formed the framework for Clear Guide Medical, started by a MUSiiC alum, to integrate CT/US fusion imaging and needle tip tracking to this handheld device. In addition to hardware, the MUSiiC lab developes advanced US techniques such as a computationally lightweight and accurate realtime bone segmentation.

 

Smart Tools and Tracking Technology

Modern surgical procedures often have a fusion of video and other imaging modalities to provide the surgeon with information support. This requires interventional guidance equipment and surgical navigation systems to register different tools and devices together, such as stereoscopic endoscopes and ultrasound (US) transducers. In this work, we focus specifically on the registration between these two devices. Electromagnetic (EM) and optical trackers are typically used to acquire this registration, but they have various drawbacks typically leading to target registration errors (TRE) of approximately 3mm. In this work, we introduce photoacoustic (PA) markers for direct 3D US to video registration.

 

Validation Framework and Software Toolkit

Research on Photoacoustic Ultrasound requires access to raw, pre-beamformed channel data, which cannot be acquired from conventional ultrasound equipment. Current photoacoustic systems are incompatible with most ultrasound systems, difficult to confgure, and expensive. Our solution is a versital software toolkit that delivers spatially-tracked pre-beamformed RF data acquisition from a conventional 2D ultrasound transducer and external tracking device.

 

High-speed Photoacoustic Imaging of Neurotransmittance Events

Understanding neurotransmittance in the human brain will provide insight into neural response to stimuli and high-level thinking. This research aims to employ dyes whose photoacoustic properties shift when exposed to an action potential or change in pH due to a neuron firing. A photoacoustic helmet will take advantage of these changes to image neural activity. With this knowledge, further research looks into treating diseases such as epilepsy, coma, dystonia, and Parkinson’s with ultrasound energy. This is our newest field of research with publications expected in the next year.