The purpose of this study was to develop an ultrasound image tracking algorithm (UITA) for extracting the exact displacement of internal organs caused by respiratory motion. The program can track organ displacements in real time, and analyze the displacement signals associated with organ displacements via a respiration compensating system (RCS). The ultrasound imaging system is noninvasive and has a high spatial resolution and a high frame rate (around 32 frames/s), which reduces the radiation doses that patients receive during computed tomography and X-ray observations. This allows for the continuous noninvasive observation and compensation of organ displacements simultaneously during a radiation therapy session. This study designed a UITA for tracking the motion of a specific target, such as the human diaphragm. Simulated diaphragm motion driven by a respiration simulation system was observed with an ultrasound imaging system, and then the induced diaphragm displacements were calculated by our proposed UITA. These signals were used to adjust the gain of the RCS so that the amplitudes of the compensation signals were close to the target movements. The inclination angle of the ultrasound probe with respect to the surface of the abdomen affects the results of ultrasound image displacement tracking. Therefore, the displacement of the phantom was verified by a LINAC with different inclination-angle settings of the ultrasound probe. The experimental results indicate that the best inclination angle of the ultrasound probe is 40 degrees, since this results in the target displacement of the ultrasound images being close to the actual target motion. The displacement signals of the tracking phantom and the opposing displacement signals created by the RCS were compared to assess the positioning accuracy of our proposed ultrasound image tracking technique combined with the RCS. When the ultrasound probe was inclined by 40 degrees in simulated respiration experiments using sine waves, the correlation between the target displacement on the ultrasound images and the actual target displacement was around 97, and all of the compensation rates exceeded 94 after activating the RCS. Furthermore, the diaphragm movements on the ultrasound images of three patients could be captured by our image tracking technique. The test results show that our algorithm could achieve precise point locking and tracking functions on the diaphragm. This study has demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed ultrasound image tracking technique combined with the RCS for compensating for organ displacements caused by respiratory motion. This study has shown that the proposed ultrasound image tracking technique combined with the RCS can provide real-time compensation of respiratory motion during radiation therapy, without increasing the overall treatment time. In addition, the system has modest space requirements and is easy to operate.
- Ultrasound image
- real-time image tracking
- respiration compensating system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering