Developed by ADUMS, an IST-funded project that ended in April 2005, the advanced high-quality imaging system will significantly reduce diagnostic time. In addition, the technology uses off-the-shelf computer hardware, making it a cheaper alternative to expensive, purpose-produced ultrasound machines.

"The whole process of ultrasound devices has been moved away from the traditional hardware and is now implemented in software,” says Dr Georgios Sakas, ADUMS project coordinator. "The hardware of the device creates mechanical waves and receives the echoes. Once the echoes are received, they are converted in digital form and the rest of the processing is performed by software.”

A 4D ultrasound takes multiple images in rapid succession, creating a three-dimensional motion video, which is invaluable for diagnosis purposes.

An important factor in ultrasound image processing is the beamformer, the part of the system that provides the focusing for the ultrasound beam, according to Dr Stergios Stergiopoulos, president of the Canadian National Medical Technologies and one of the project partners. "This is the result of the very small size of deployed arrays of sensors and the distortion effects by the influence of the human body's non-linear propagation characteristics,” he says.

"The ADUMS project results demonstrated that the new adaptive beamformer significantly improves, at very low cost, the image resolution capabilities of the ultrasound imaging systems, which will result in better diagnosis,” he adds.

The portability and the low cost of the 4D ultrasound systems allow medical practitioners and family physicians to have ready access to diagnostic imaging systems on a daily basis and will make a valuable contribution in the field of preventive medicine, adds Stergiopoulos.; Source: IST Results