Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering


Peters, Terry M.


Real-time ultrasound has become a mainstay in many image-guided interventions and increasingly popular in several percutaneous procedures in anesthesiology. One of the main constraints of ultrasound-guided needle interventions is identifying and distinguishing the needle tip from needle shaft in the image. Augmented reality (AR) environments have been employed to address challenges surrounding surgical tool visualization, navigation, and positioning in many image-guided interventions. The motivation behind this work was to explore the feasibility and utility of such visualization techniques in anesthesiology to address some of the specific limitations of ultrasound-guided needle interventions. This thesis brings together the goals, guidelines, and best development practices of functional AR ultrasound image guidance (AR-UIG) systems, examines the general structure of such systems suitable for applications in anesthesiology, and provides a series of recommendations for their development. The main components of such systems, including ultrasound calibration and system interface design, as well as applications of AR-UIG systems for quantitative skill assessment, were also examined in this thesis.

The effects of ultrasound image reconstruction techniques, as well as phantom material and geometry on ultrasound calibration, were investigated. Ultrasound calibration error was reduced by 10% with synthetic transmit aperture imaging compared with B-mode ultrasound. Phantom properties were shown to have a significant effect on calibration error, which is a variable based on ultrasound beamforming techniques. This finding has the potential to alter how calibration phantoms are designed cognizant of the ultrasound imaging technique.

Performance of an AR-UIG guidance system tailored to central line insertions was evaluated in novice and expert user studies. While the system outperformed ultrasound-only guidance with novice users, it did not significantly affect the performance of experienced operators. Although the extensive experience of the users with ultrasound may have affected the results, certain aspects of the AR-UIG system contributed to the lackluster outcomes, which were analyzed via a thorough critique of the design decisions.

The application of an AR-UIG system in quantitative skill assessment was investigated, and the first quantitative analysis of needle tip localization error in ultrasound in a simulated central line procedure, performed by experienced operators, is presented. Most participants did not closely follow the needle tip in ultrasound, resulting in 42% unsuccessful needle placements and a 33% complication rate. Compared to successful trials, unsuccessful procedures featured a significantly greater (p=0.04) needle-tip to image-plane distance. Professional experience with ultrasound does not necessarily lead to expert level performance. Along with deliberate practice, quantitative skill assessment may reinforce clinical best practices in ultrasound-guided needle insertions.

Based on the development guidelines, an AR-UIG system was developed to address the challenges in ultrasound-guided epidural injections. For improved needle positioning, this system integrated A-mode ultrasound signal obtained from a transducer housed at the tip of the needle. Improved needle navigation was achieved via enhanced visualization of the needle in an AR environment, in which B-mode and A-mode ultrasound data were incorporated. The technical feasibility of the AR-UIG system was evaluated in a preliminary user study. The results suggested that the AR-UIG system has the potential to outperform ultrasound-only guidance.