Date of this Version
U. S. Patent No. 6,048,312.
A method and an apparatus for three-dimensional ultrasound imaging of a needle-like instrument, such as a biopsy needle, inserted in a human body. The instrument is visualized by transmitting ultrasound beams toward the instrument and then detecting the echo signals using a linear array of transducer elements. The problem of ultrasound being reflected from a biopsy needle in a direction away from the transducer array is solved by steering the transmitted ultrasound beams t increase the angle at which the beams impinge upon the biopsy needle. Ideally the ultrasound beams are perpendicular to the needle. This increases the system's sensitivity to the needle because the reflections from the needle are directed close to the transducer array. This can be accomplished using either the B mode or the color flow mode of an ultrasound imaging system. The acquired data for multiple two-dimensional image frames is gathered in memory to form a data volume, which is then processed to form a three-dimensional image (by projection) or a two-dimensional slice taken at an angle through the data volume. In particular, a two-dimensional slice which is coplanar with inserted biopsy needle can be imaged.
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