Performance evaluation of a medical robotic 3D-ultrasound imaging system

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3D-ultrasound (US) imaging systems offer many advantages such as convenience, low operative costs and multiple scanning options. Most 3D-US freehand tracking systems are not optimally adapted for the quantification of lower limb arterial stenoses because their performance depends on the scanning length, on ferro-magnetic interferences or because they require a constant line of sight with the US probe. Robotic systems represent a promising alternative since they can control and standardize the 3D-US acquisition process for large scanning distances without requiring a specific line of sight. The performance of a new prototype medical robot, in terms of positioning and inter-target accuracies (i.e., difference between measurements and ground truth values) was evaluated with a lower-limb mimicking phantom throughout the robot workspace. The teach/replay repeatability (i.e., difference between taught and replayed points) was also assessed. A mean positioning accuracy between 0.46 mm and 0.75 mm was found on all scanning zones. The mean inter-target distance accuracy varied between 0.26 mm and 0.61 mm. Teach/replay repeatability below 0.20 mm was also obtained. Additionally, a 3D reconstruction of in-vitro stenoses was performed with the robotic US scanner. The quantification error of a 80% area reduction (AR) stenosis was 3.0%, whereas it was −0.9% for a less severe 75% AR stenosis. Altogether, these results suggest that the robot may be of value for the clinical evaluation of lower limb vessels over long and tortuous segments starting from the iliac artery down to the popliteal artery below the knee.

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