Laser ultrasound system eliminates patient contact

Researchers at MIT have published details of a non-contact ultrasound imaging system designed to mitigate inter- and intra-operator variability, and possibly patient discomfort, by using a standoff optical concept that generates and measures ultrasonic waves without patient contact (WO/2017/209830). The system includes a pulsed near-infrared scanning laser source that illuminates a surface of the body and generates ultrasonic elastic waves that propagate into the body. A laser Doppler vibrometer measures surface vibration caused by the propagating ultrasonic waves, while a data acquisition module processes data from the vibrometer to construct an image.

MRI strain measurements reveal heart function

Myocardial Solutions has described a method for rapid quantitative evaluations of heart function using strain measurements from MR images (WO/2017/189706). The approach uses a circuit in communication with an MRI scanner and a display. The circuit includes one on more processors that obtain a series of MR images of long- and short-axis planes of a patient's heart. Each series is taken over a different single beat of the heart during an imaging session with five minutes or less of active scan time, and with the patient in the MR scanner bore. The processor measures strain of myocardial heart tissue based on the MR images, and generates longitudinal and circumferential heart models with a number of adjacent compartments that are colour-coded based on the measured strain.

A new take on proton CT reconstruction

A team at the University of Lincoln has developed methods for reconstructing a three-dimensional image in a proton CT apparatus (WO/2017/194920). The scheme involves directing protons at a target, such as a patient, from various incident angles. For each proton, a combination of parameters are recorded at each projection. From these parameters, an image can be reconstructed using (either singly or in combination) the various properties of the proton interactions with the patient: the stopping power, scattering power, attenuating power and straggling power. According to the filing, exploiting these different quantities creates proton CT images with improved image quality metrics, and requires reduced instrument complexity and cost, compared with conventional stopping-power-based proton CT.

Image fusion system corrects probe-induced deformation

An image fusion system that co-registers and fuses real-time ultrasound images with reference images, such as those produced by MRI or CT, is described by Philips (WO/2017/202795). In one implementation, previously acquired CT, MRI or ultrasound images are loaded into the system. An ultrasound system is operated along with a tracking system that spatially tracks the ultrasound probe and images. An image processor registers the probe position with a reference image of the anatomy being scanned and determines whether the probe appears to be inside the skin line of the subject. If that is the case, it is due to probe compression, and the reference image is modified to relocate the skin line in front of the probe. The modified reference images can then be readily co-registered and fused with the ultrasound images produced by the probe.

Automated systems score quality of radiology exams

Image quality is a key goal in radiology; but the need to balance image quality against dose means that the overall quality of a radiology exam may also include appropriateness, and compliance with policies, procedures and protocols. With this in mind, Bayer Healthcare has created automated systems to assess radiology examination quality and identify actionable changes to improve the quality of future exams (WO/2017/200913). The method includes defining a study protocol and a set of study metrics, for each of a number of imaging studies, and performing the defined study protocol to generate associated data. A metrics assessment is performed by applying at least some of these data against the set of study metrics for the imaging study to generate a metrics score. These scores are stored in a repository and analysed to provide recommendations to improve the examination process.

OCT of retinal vasculature detects disease

Bio-Tree Systems has invented a method for observing small changes to a patient's retina, with the aim of diagnosing retina disease (WO/2017/192383). The method involves capturing images of the vascular network within the retina, through the use of optical coherence tomography (OCT), for example. These images are then processed to determine the location and diameter of each vessel in the three-dimensional vascular network in the retina. The vascular network is then divided into a number of equal unit volumes, and the vessel density, vascular volume density and other metrics are determined for each unit volume. This information, which can be parsed and presented in a variety of ways, can then be used to identify retina disease.