News Column

Patent Application Titled "Needle Enhancement in Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging" Published Online

July 24, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Wang, Peng (Princeton, NJ); Chen, Terrence (Princeton, NJ); Kamen, Ali (Skillman, NJ); Stoll, Jeffrey (San Mateo, CA); Comaniciu, Dorin (Princeton Junction, NJ); Good, Sara (Pleasanton, CA), filed on January 3, 2013, was made available online on July 10, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present embodiments relate to identifying a location of a needle in ultrasound images.

"During biopsy, drug delivery or other medical procedure, needles are inserted into a patient. Clinicians often use ultrasound images for guidance to avoid piercing organs not being treated, improve precision and/or improve outcome. Due to noise in the ultrasound image, it may be difficult to reliably view the needle. The visibility of the needle depends on the angle between the needle orientation and the ultrasound beam orientation. When the ultrasound beam is perpendicular to the needle orientation, the needle reflection is maximized. The needle and ultrasound probe locations are dictated by anatomy, so a perpendicular scan arrangement may not be provided, especially for deeply inserted needles.

"Actively steered ultrasound beams may be used to increase visibility. Resulting scan data may be used to detect the needle. A Hough transform is used to detect possible needles, which are parameterized as lines. Assuming that only one needle exists, the most possible needle is detected as the needle. The detected needle is cropped from a steered image and is then averaged with an ultrasound image at a selected view to enhance the visibility of the needle. However, the Hough transform may be prone to noise in the ultrasound images.

"Sensors, such as electromagnetic or magnetic sensors, may be connected to the needle. The sensors are used to track the position of the needle. The position may be highlighted for the clinician. However, the additional sensors increase costs, require regular calibration, and may change existing clinical workflow."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "By way of introduction, the preferred embodiments described below include methods, systems, instructions, and computer readable media for enhancing a needle in a medical diagnostic ultrasound image. The image intensities associated with a needle in an image are adaptively increased and/or enhanced by compounding from a plurality of ultrasound images. Filtering methods and probabilistic methods are used to locate possible needle locations. In one approach, possible needles are found in component frames that are acquired at the same time but at different beam orientations. The possible needles are associated with each other across the component frames and false detections are removed based on the associations. In one embodiment of needle detection in an ultrasound component frame, lines are found first. The lines are then searched to find possible needle segments. In another embodiment, data from different times may be used to find needle motion and differences from a reference, providing the features in additional to features from a single component frame for needle detection.

"In a first aspect, a method is provided for enhancing a needle in medical diagnostic ultrasound images. A plurality of ultrasound frames of data are acquired with different beam orientations, respectively. The plurality of ultrasound frames represents a patient and a needle within the patient. Needle candidates are detected in the plurality of ultrasound frames of data. The needle candidates in one ultrasound frame of data are associated with other needle candidates in the other ultrasound frame of data. Some of the needle candidates in the plurality of frames of data are removed based on the association. An image of the patient and the needle is displayed. The displayed needle is a function of a weighted compounding from the plurality of ultrasound frames of data at the locations of the associated needle

"In a second aspect, a non-transitory computer readable storage medium has stored therein data representing instructions executable by a programmed processor for enhancing a needle in medical diagnostic ultrasound images. The storage medium includes instructions for calculating a first probability for each of a plurality of possible needles represented by ultrasound data for different images, determining a second probability for each combination of the possible needles across the different images, the second probability being a function of the first probabilities and a displacement penalization, removing the combinations wherein the second probability is below a threshold, and generating an image from weighted compounding of the ultrasound data at the locations for the needle, the weighting being a function of the second probability for a remaining one of the combinations.

"In a third aspect, a system is provided for enhancing a needle in a medical diagnostic ultrasound image. A memory is operable to store data representing a region, at different times, of a patient and a needle in the region. A processor is configured to identify line candidates in the data representing the region at a first one of the different times, score the line candidates based on pixels, search the line candidates with a score above a threshold for candidate segments, score the candidate segments based on motion over the different times and on a difference from reference data, and increase intensities of the data along one or more of the candidate segments. A display is operable to display an image as a function of the increased intensities.

"The present invention is defined by the following claims, and nothing in this section should be taken as a limitation on those claims. Further aspects and advantages of the invention are discussed below in conjunction with the preferred embodiments and may be later claimed independently or in combination.


"The components and the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

"FIG. 1 is a flow chart diagram of one embodiment of a method for detecting and enhancing a needle in medical diagnostic ultrasound images;

"FIG. 2 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a system for enhancing a needle in a medical diagnostic ultrasound image;

"FIG. 3 is graphical representation of a needle in a patient; and

"FIG. 4 is a flow chart diagram of one embodiment of a method for detecting a needle in a medical diagnostic ultrasound image."

For more information, see this patent application: Wang, Peng; Chen, Terrence; Kamen, Ali; Stoll, Jeffrey; Comaniciu, Dorin; Good, Sara. Needle Enhancement in Diagnostic Ultrasound Imaging. Filed January 3, 2013 and posted July 10, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc.

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Source: Politics & Government Week

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