(19)
(11)EP 2 404 551 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.05.2020 Bulletin 2020/20

(21)Application number: 11172273.2

(22)Date of filing:  30.06.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A61B 6/00  (2006.01)
A61B 8/00  (2006.01)
A61B 8/08  (2006.01)
A61B 6/03  (2006.01)
A61B 6/06  (2006.01)
G06T 7/246  (2017.01)
A61B 5/055  (2006.01)
A61B 8/06  (2006.01)

(54)

Method for operating an imaging device for the monitoring of an anatomical region comprising metallic objects and corresponding imaging device

Verfahren und Bildgebungsvorrichtung für die anatomische Beobachutung eines Bereichs welches metallische Objekte enthält

Procédé et appareil pour l'imagerie d'un région avec des objets métalliques


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 07.07.2010 IT GE20100076

(43)Date of publication of application:
11.01.2012 Bulletin 2012/02

(73)Proprietor: Esaote S.p.A.
16152 Genova (IT)

(72)Inventors:
  • Cerofolini, Marino
    52010 Subbiano (AR) (IT)
  • Greppi, Barbara
    50014 Fiesole (FI) (IT)

(74)Representative: Karaghiosoff, Giorgio Alessandro 
c/o Praxi Intellectual Property S.p.A. - Savona Via F. Baracca 1R, 4° piano "Il Gabbiano"
17100 Savona
17100 Savona (IT)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 623 674
US-A1- 2008 146 919
US-A1- 2009 326 373
US-A1- 2010 114 308
WO-A1-2010/064348
US-A1- 2008 298 660
US-A1- 2010 063 400
  
  • XISHI HUANG ET AL: "Dynamic 2D Ultrasound and 3D CT Image Registration of the Beating Heart", IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MEDICAL IMAGING, IEEE SERVICE CENTER, PISCATAWAY, NJ, US, vol. 28, no. 8, 1 August 2009 (2009-08-01) , pages 1179-1189, XP011249697, ISSN: 0278-0062
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description


[0001] The present disclosure relates to a method for operating an imaging device for the monitoring of an anatomical region during insertion of metallic objects or objects made at leat partly of metal inside the said region, which metallic objects disturb standard tracking systems.

[0002] Currently used monitoring imaging methods are based on the use of apparatuses acquiring high resolution images, mainly volumetric images, in order to have a better and more detailed picture of the body under examination.

[0003] Such apparatuses, such as for example CAT, MRI, Fluorangiography, besides generally having a large size and consequently causing drawbacks related to the fact of being cumbersome and to unnecessary costs, they provide a great amount of image data, whose processing is time-consuming and makes impossible to perform imaging sessions in real-time. This drawback is particularly serious when imaging has not only diagnostic purposes but when its further aim is the auxiliary monitoring during operations on the patient.

[0004] The need of real-time imaging for assisting operations further increases when the anatomical district or the organ to be monitored change over time or move, such as for example the heart.

[0005] In particular the percutaneous introduction of metallic objects either for diagnostic, surgery or therapeutic aims into specific positions of an anatomical district has several drawbacks which need to be solved. The most relevant one resides in the fact that these objects are at least partly made by metal and influence the magnetic field of a standard type tracking system reducing the visibility and the chances for the operation to be successful.

[0006] One particular and important example relates to the positioning of cardiac valves. In this case the fact of monitoring the orientation of the valve while introducing it, is very critical for the success of the operation, since a wrong orientation can compromise the operation, making it necessary to replace the valve consequently increasing costs. Cardiac valves generally comprise metal material that affect, while moving the valves, the magnetic field used by standard tracking systems reducing the visibility and the chances for the operation to be successful.

[0007] The ideal imaging technique for selecting the type of valve and its relative positioning is Multislice CT due to its high spatial resolution. However, currently such technique, can be used only when planning the operation, for example in order to define the size of the valve, since it cannot be performed in real-time nor in a hemodynamic and/or heart surgery room (so called cathlab) during the operation.

[0008] Document EP 1 467 317 discloses a method and an apparatus for combining first and second imag data of an object, according to which an ultrasound detector repeatedly generates the first image data of the object and the second image data of the object are generated separately by means of a CT an MR a PET or an x.ray apparatus. The second image data being three-dimensional image data of the object A combination device combines the first and second image data. A tracker of the ultrasound probe being provided for tracking the position of the ultrasound probe and of the two dimensional data generated by the ultraousnd probe. The tracking device is used as a reference coordinate system in relation to which first and second image data can be registered in order to register first and second image data for combination. A certain position of the ultrasound probe and thus of the slice or section plane along which the image data is collected can be thus related to an identical section plane or slice in the three-dimensional image data allowing reconstruction of te image along the said slice or section plane by using the second image data instead of the first image data generated by the ultrasound probe. Document
US2010/0239150 as well as document "Dynamic 2D Ultrasound and 3D CT Image Registration of the Beating Heart", Xishi Huang et al., IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 28(8), August 2019 describe the combined imaging of ultrasound and X-ray CT.

[0009] This decive and method uses standard tracking devices in which the position sensors of the ultrasound probe aoperate in a magnetic field. No arrangement is taken for avoiding magnetic field disturbance in case that the system is used in combination with operations for positioning at least partly metallic objects in the imaged anatomical district.

[0010] Therefore the aim of the disclosure is to provide a monitoring system which, by means of relatively simple and inexpensive arrangements, allows a body or a part thereof under examination to be monitored by real-time imaging while maintaining a high image quality, without the need of an excessive computation performance by the equipment and allowing to be used without a loss in precision for monitoring the positioning of at least partly metallic objects in an anatomical region. Moreover such method has to be highly versatile, that is several types of diagnostic examinations have to be performed by it, thus it is necessary for it to be able to acquire real-time images, in order to display the acquired images on a moment-by-moment basis.

[0011] The invention achieves the above aims by providing a method for operating an imaging device for the monitoring of an anatomical region comprising metallic objects according to claim 1.

[0012] A specific but non limiting application of the method is in the field of cardiologic monitoring in particular for monitoring the correct positioning of a cardiac valve in the heart.

[0013] According to an embodiment of the method the two dimensional image reconstructed form the three dimensional image and the two dimensional ecographic image are displayed at the same time on a screen in two different regions of the screen which are one beside the other or one upper and one lower region or in the same region of the screen the said images being displayed alternatively one to the other or the two inages are displayed on the same region of the screen being superposed or combined one to the other.

[0014] The first acquisition means used for obtaining the three-dimensional image can be every available imaging means which is capable of generating such image data. Preferably this is a computed axial tomography device (CAT), while the second real-time acquisition means used for obtaining the two-dimensional image and used as the guide instrument inside the three-dimensional image is composed of an ultrasound system, in particular comprising an ultrasound probe.

[0015] Advantageously the displacement of the second means is tracked by using a sensor system, such as for example the Flock of Birdstm by Ascension Corporation or gMPStm by Mediguide Inc.

[0016] According to an improvement of the method of the present invention the step for identifying the first section slice or plane of the image acquired by the second acquisition means within the three-dimensional image, is performed by using known mathematical algorithms such as for example the autocorrelation among data of the two-dimensional image and those of the three-dimensional image.

[0017] As already decribed above, once a two-dimensional image is acquired by the second imaging means, which two-dimensional image is along a section slice or plane passing by the selected reference points, said plane or said slice is recognized within the three-dimensional image by means of the reference points and of the fact that they must have the same relative positions as in the image acquired by said second imaging means. Such condition can be modified with different processing means, such as the autocorrelation or similar registration algorithms. Some examples are described in EP 1844440.

[0018] The method steps according to the present invention allow to overcome the problems of disturbance of the tracking sensors by means of at least partly metallic objects tobe introduced in the anatomical region of the human body. Once the three-dimensional image is acquired the reference points which are important for the introduction of the cardiac valve are selected, such as for example the calcium particles accumulated on the valve to be replaced and here the first plane from where acquiring the two-dimensional image by the ultrasound probe is selected.

[0019] Then the ultrasound probe is moved towards the location where the valve is introduced till reaching it, the probe movement is registered and a two-dimensional high resolution image of the plane passing by the valve introduction location is obtained with data related to the corresponding plane belonging to the three-dimensional image.

[0020] Now the probe is kept fixed, and the cardiac valve begins to be inserted. The movements of the valve are monitored by the ultrasound probe and when at the point of interest the cardiac valve is introduced by using the reference of the high resolution three-dimensional image, allowing the location to be seen in a better way so that the valve can be properly introduced therein. Thus the effect of metal parts on position sensors is neutralized since the reference imaging is kept fixed, and therefore is independent of any change in the magnetic field caused by the metal material which may cause a wrong image to be selected.

[0021] Advantageously it is possible to enrich the high resolution image with the corresponding ultrasound image for example of the CFM and/or Doppler type to be overlapped or put beside it.

[0022] A further improvement of the method according to the present invention provides steps for monitoring that the ecographic probe is held fixed in the position corresponding to the two dimensional image at the further section slice or plane on which the probe has been positioned in order to imagine the object to be inserted in the anatomic region the said steps consisting in

[0023] Freezing a first ecographic image taken at the said further section plane or slice on which the probe has been positioned in order to imagine the object to be inserted in the anatomic region and displaying the said freezed first image.

[0024] The further images acquired along the same said section plane or slice along which the first freezed image has been acquired being compared with the freezed image for detecting differences;

[0025] Signaling the detection of the said differences.

[0026] Each further image acquired along the further slice or section plane of the freezed first image are also displayed on the screen in a different screen region than the one in which the said freezed first image is displayed or in the same region and in an alternate way to the said freezed first image or superimposed to the said freezed image.

[0027] According to a first variant, the comparison of the displayed image corresponding to the freezed first image with each of the images to be acquired along the same section plane or slice as the freezed first image is made by visual check.

[0028] According to a second variant the above comparison is made by processing of the image data relating to the first freezed image and to each of the images to be acquired along the same section plane or slice as the freezed first image with a comparison algorithm such as a correlation algorithm.

[0029] A further variant may comprise both the above said first and second variants allowing to carry out a visual comparison and a comaprsion based on correlation processing of the images.

[0030] According to still a further variant when the anatomical district to be imaged and in which the object has to be inserted is a moving organ, such as for example the heart, every one of the images acquired along the section plane or slice of the freezed first image including the said freezed first image are synchronized by and ECG signal.

[0031] The above steps allow to controll continuously that the probe is held fixed so that the slice or section plane along which the image is acquired is always the same during the entire duration of the operation and by signalling that a difference has been detected the user can immediately correct the position and orientation of the probe in order to bring the section plane or the slice along which the probe is currently acquiring images in coincidence with the section plane or slice aalong which the freezed first image has been acquired.

[0032] Still a further improvement may provide the generation of visual indicators of the displacements needed to correct orienting again the probe in order to bring the section plane or the slice along which the probe is currently acquiring images in coincidence with the section plane or slice aalong which the freezed first image has been acquired, when the comparison of the image acquired at a certain instant with the freezed first image has revealed that the section plane or slice along which the said image has been acquired does not match with the section plane or slice at which the freezed first image has been acquired.

[0033] The said indications are computed either from the data of the probe tracking unit and also from the differences of the section plane or slice along which the current image is acquired in relation to the section plane or slice along which the freezed first image has been taken.

[0034] The indications can consist in visual indications and/or acoustic indications. The visual indications can consist in arrows printed on the screen and which arrows show the direction of the displacement needed to correct the oprientation of the probe. The arrows may further indicate an approximate length of the displacement in the direction of the arrow, by having arrow of different length which legth is proportional to the legth of the displacement and/o by having arrows of different thickness which thickness is proportional to the length of the displacement.

[0035] Acoustic signals may consist in simple beeps or tones or in vocal messages generated by a voice synthetiser.

[0036] The present invention relates also to an imaging device for performing the method described above, comprising a first three-dimensional image acquisition means and a second two-dimensional image acquisition means, a storage unit for storing image data acquired by the first and second image acquisition means, such storage means being connected to a registration and processing unit acquiring two-dimensional images and which associate them to three-dimensional images. Moreover there is provided a means for a system tracking the displacement of the second two-dimensional image acquisition means and a display unit for displaying three-dimensional and two-dimensional images acquired and/or processed by the registration and processing unit.

[0037] Advantageously the apparatus of the present invention provides the first acquisition means used for obtaining the three-dimensional image to be composed of a computed axial tomography device (CAT), while the second acquisition means used for obtaining the two-dimensional image to be an ultrasound system, in particular comprising an ultrasound probe. As an alternative or in combination with the CAT it is possible anyway to use also other acquisition methods such as MRI, fluoroangiography, PET, SPECT and the like.

[0038] According to an improvement the apparatus of the present invention provides the registration and processing unit to comprise processor means acting for executing a logic program intended for acquiring, processing and associating image data stored within the storage unit coming from the acquisition made by the first and second image acquisition means.

[0039] In addition the tracking of the displacement of the second acquisition means, in particular of the ultrasound probe, is performed by a means for a dislacement tracking system composed of a sensor, or of a sensor system, which detects the probe and follows its displacement, storing the data inside the storage unit.

[0040] A variant embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention provides the processing and registration unit to be connected with a further diagnostic device for acquiring data of such device, process them and associate them to image data. According to a variant embodiment such processing and registration unit is connected to an electrocardiograph and it acquires and processes data coming from the first and second image acquisition means based on the different moments of the electrocardiogram graph.

[0041] As an alternative or in combination it is also possible to use a blood pressure monitor and/or any monitoring system for the movement of the structure under examination such as for example a device for measuring the breathing cycle such as a plethysmograph.

[0042] Data processed by the registration and processing unit are transmitted to the processing unit, which, according to a preferred embodiment, comprises a unit for identifying and displaying the reference points found within the volumetric three-dimensional image. The same display unit is generally composed of one or more display screens that contemporaneously display the several images and/or acquired data: thus it is possible to contemporaneously display the three-dimensional image acquired by the first acquisition means, the one acquired by the second acquisition means as well as those processed by the registration and processing unit, such that the operator can have a complete overview of the body he/she is monitoring, composed of previously acquired images and or images processed in real-time.

[0043] According to a further improvement the imaging apparatus is provided with means for freezing an ecographic image acquired at a certain instant and with means for comparing each image of a sequence of ecographic images which has to be taken along the same section plane or slice as the freezed image at following times than the said first freezed image.

[0044] Signalling means may be provided which signals the occurrence of differences between the images of the sequence of images and the freezed first image.

[0045] Also an ECG unit is provided which collects ECG data and which triggers the image acquisitions according to the ECG signal in or to acquire images which are synchronized one with respet to the other by ECG signals. In this case when considering the cardiologic application synchronization means that each image is acquired during the same period of the cardiac cycle as measured by the ECG.

[0046] The freezed image and the images of the sequence of images taken along the same section plane or slice ar the freezed image are displayed in different adjacent regions of the screen in order to allow a visual comparation of the images of the sequence of images with the first freezed image.

[0047] A processing unit may be providsed which carry out the above comparison by running comparison program using a correlation algorithm.

[0048] The invention relates also to further characteristics further improving the above method for operating an imaging device and the imaging device which further characteristics are the subject of the subclaims.

[0049] These and other characteristics and advantages of the present invention will be more clear from the following description of some embodiments shown in annexed drawings wherein:

Fig.1 schematically shows with function blocks the basic principles of the method and apparatus for tracking the ultrasound probe and registering the two dimensional image of the probe with the three dimensional images acquired at an earlier time and displaying an image corresponding to a two dimensional image reconstructed from the three dimensional image along the same slice or section plane as the image acquired by the uktrasound probe;

Fig.2 schematically shows with function blocks an example of the registration and processing unit of the apparatus of figure 1;

Fig.3 schematically shows the several steps of the method of registering three-dimensional images with two dimensional images.

Fig.4 schematically shows the steps of the starting phase of the method of the present invention.

Figure 5 schematically illustrates the method and apparatus according to the present invention.

Figures 6 and 7 illustrate respectively one echographic image and the corresponding image constructed along the same slice from the three dimensional tomographic image data relatively to a so calle LAX of the Left ventricle taken with a transthotacic approach.



[0050] Figures 1 to 3 schematically show with function blocks the apparatus for performing the registration of the two dimensional ultrasound images with the three dimensional images acquired at an earlier time and with a tomographic system for reconstructing out of the image datqa of the three dimensional image the two dimensional image along the same slice or section plane of the two dimensional image acquired by the ultrasound probe.

[0051] The apparatus comprises a first three-dimensional image acquisition means, particularly a computed axial tomograph 2, which acquires a volumetric image of an anatomical district 1 of the body under examination. Such image is sent to a registration and processing unit 4 which stores the three-dimensional image within the storage unit 41.

[0052] Moreover there is provided a second two-dimensional image acquisition means, an ultrasound device, in particular an ultrasound probe 3, which acquires a two-dimensional image of the anatomical district 1 at or along a first section slice or plane 11 thereof: the two-dimensional image is sent to the processing unit 4 too.

[0053] Image data obtained from the computed axial tomography 2 and from the ultrasound probe 3 are compared within a registration and processing sub-unit 42 within which there are provided processor means acting for executing a logic program such that the first section slice or plane 11 is identified and associated to the corresponding section slice or plane within the three-dimensional image acquired by the device 2.

[0054] Therefore the registration and processing unit, according to its preferred embodiment shown in figure 2, has an input channel 43 for image data from the computed axial tomography and an input channel 44 for image data from the ultrasound probe 3. Data from the channel 43 are stored within the storage unit 41, then are sent together with data from the channel 44 to the registration and processing sub-unit 42. Within the registration and processing sub-unit 42 all data will be processed such that the first section slice or plane 11 is identified and associated to the corresponding section slice or plane within the three-dimensional image acquired by the device 2.

[0055] Now the sub-unit 42 uses image data of the three-dimensional image acquired by the device 2 related to the section plane 11 identified within the three-dimensional image and it reconstructs a high resolution two-dimensional image 45 of the section slice or plane 11. One particular embodiment of the above method is disclosed for example in EP 1 467 317.

[0056] When the ultrasound probe 3 is moved towards a further section slice or plane 12 of the same anatomical district 1 having a position different than that of the first section slice or plane 11 previously selected, this displacement of the ultrasound probe 3 is tracked by a tracking system 5. the tracking system can be of any kind. A preferred tracking system is composed of sensors registering the movements of the ultrasound probe 3 and sending data to the registration and processing unit 4, in particular to the registration and processing sub-unit 42.

[0057] The sub-unit 42, by the identification of the first plane 11 within the three-dimensional image which took place previously due to registration of the said image data, reconstructs a new two-dimensional image 46 with the image data of the three-dimensional image falling along the new further plane 12 defined by the ultrasound probe 3 and identified with a corresponding plane belonging to the three-dimensional image, by simply moving on the three-dimensional image using the data related to the tracking of the displacement of the probe 3 which have been obtained by the sensor system 5.

[0058] Thus the probe 3, once the first plane 11 is identified within the three-dimensional image, is used as a guide instrument for moving inside the three-dimensional image.

[0059] A variant embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention provides a further rescaling unit which act for scaling the measurement of the displacement of the probe 3 to an equivalent measurement according to dimensions of the three-dimensional image, such that the plane 12 acquired by the probe 3 corresponds to a precise and univocal plane inside the three-dimensional image for the reconstruction of the high resolution two-dimensional image 46. Such unit can be integrated within the registration and processing sub-unit 42 or can belong to the tracking system 45.

[0060] The whole process is carried out in real-time mode, after having identified the first plane 11 within the three-dimensional image, the fact of tracking the probe displacement makes it possible to move along the three-dimensional image and to obtain a high resolution two-dimensional image since it is reconstructed from the volumetric image.

[0061] A variant embodiment of the method and of the apparatus of the present invention provides the volume of the anatomical district under acquisition to be reduced. One or more reference points are selected, preferably close to the part to be monitored and considering an area surrounding the reference points: preferably 3 reference points are used, in order to facilitate the choice of the first plane 11 where the measurement of the probe displacement has to start, since there is only one plane passing by three points, consequently the plane 11 is univocally defined.

[0062] A variant embodiment of the method of the present invention provides such method to be used in combination with another diagnostic method: this is particularly advantageous when monitoring moving organs or parts of the body, which change their condition depending on the moment when the registration occurs. For example in the case of cardiac monitoring it is possible to associate an electrocardiogram in combination with the computed axial tomography and with the ultrasound probe: it would be better to determine a specific time window within the graph of the electrocardiogram, preferably where the heart undergoes fewer changes, and the three-dimensional and the two-dimensional images are acquired periodically in the selected time window.

[0063] In particular figure 3 schematically shows the basic registration steps needed to carry out the method of the present invention. A first diagnostic image acquisition means 2 acquires a three-dimensional image of an anatomical district 1 of the body to be monitored, such image is stored within the registration and processing unit 4.

[0064] A second diagnostic image acquisition means acquires a two-dimensional image along a plane 11 of the anatomical district 1 and sends image data to the registration and processing unit 4. Such unit identifies the plane 11 within the stored three-dimensional image and in case it reconstructs a high resolution two-dimensional image by using the image data of the three-dimensional image which are relevant to the plane 11.

[0065] The second image acquisition means 3 is moved troughout the anatomical district 1 and it acquires a second two-dimensional image along a plane 12 having a position and/or orientation different than the first plane 11. The movement of the second acquisition means 3 is tracked by the tracking system which communicates to the registration and processing unit 4 the measurement of the displacement.

[0066] The registration and processing unit 4 identifies within the three-dimensional image the amount of the displacement of the second acquisition means 3 in order to reconstruct a high resolution two-dimensional image 46 using the image data of the three-dimensional image which are relevant to the plane 12.

[0067] It is possible to use one of the systems currently known on the market as the tracking system. A first tracking system is described in EP2147636.

[0068] As regards the identification of the plane or slice along which the starting image by the second acquisition means, particularly by an ultrasound system, and the three-dimensional image are acquired it is possible to use 2, preferably 3 reference points since 3 points univocally define a plane. All said reference points, or a part thereof, can be anatomical structures or anatomical markers. These have to be univocally present when acquiring the three-dimensional image by the first acquisition means and particularly by an apparatus for acquiring radiographic tomographic images.

[0069] When acquiring the two-dimensional image, the acquisition means are carried and oriented such to have all the reference points in the relative predetermined positions within the acquired image. The section slice or plane along which said two-dimensional image has been acquired is identified within said three-dimensional image as being the plane or slice where the reconstructed image provides a representation of the reference points identical within tolerances to those present in the three-dimensional image, which have been acquired by the second imaging means, in particular an ultrasound system. The fact of being identical can be defined by means of image comparison algorithms such as for example autocorrelation algorithms or the like.

[0070] Registration systems are known and are described in EP 1844440.

[0071] In particular figure 4 schematically shows the method of the present invention according to a particular embodiment, according to which, after having acquired a three-dimensional image of the anatomical district 1 of the body under examination, by a first acquisition means, 3 reference points 13, 14 and 15 are found belonging to the anatomical district 1, preferably adjacent to an area of interest where the anatomical district 1 has to be monitored. Since there is only one plane passing by three points, such plane 11 is identified and a two-dimensional image is acquired along such plane 11 by the second acquisition means 3.

[0072] The two-dimensional image of the plane 11 acquired by the second acquisition means 3 is sent to the registration and processing unit 4, which acts for identifying such plane inside the three-dimensional image stored within the storage unit.

[0073] Once such plane 11 is identified within the three-dimensional image, the registration and processing unit 4 acts also for reconstructing the two-dimensional image 45 relevant to the plane 11, by using the image data of the three-dimensional image falling inside the plane, displaying by means of a high resolution image the three reference points 13, 14 and 15 and the surrounding area.

[0074] Now the monitoring of the body under examination is carried on by moving the second diagnostic image acquisition means 3 towards at least a further section slice or plane belonging to the same anatomical district 1 having a position and/or orientation different than that of the first section plane 11 which has been previously selected.

[0075] The displacement of the second diagnostic image acquisition means 3 is tracked such that, by the identification of the first plane 11 within the three-dimensional image which occurred previously, a new two-dimensional image is reconstructed with the image data of the three-dimensional image falling along the new further plane determined by the second acquisition means 3 and identified with a corresponding plane of the three-dimensional image, by simply moving on the three-dimensional image by using the data related to the tracking of the displacement of the second acquisition means.

[0076] These are the basic steps of the method according to the present invention. The complete method steps and the schematic structure of the device are described hereinafter with more detail with reference to figure 5.

[0077] In figure 5, slice S0 is the same slice as the slice represented in figure 4, which slice coincides with a plane containing the three reference points 13, 14, 15. As already explained in figure 4, the probe 3 carries a receiver 105 of the tracking system which receiver is sensed by the transmitter 5. At the beginning the probe 3 is displaced such as to generate a two dimensional image along a section plane or a slice coinciding with the plane containing the three reference points 13, 14, 15 and coinciding with the slice S0 in figure 5. This image data is sent to the registration and processing sub-unit 42 (see the more detailed block diagram representing the apparatus of figure 2). The registration and processing unit 42 receives also the position and orientation data of the slice S0 relatively to the transmitter unit 5. The registration and processing unit can retrieve from the storage uniot 41 the image data relative to the three-dimensional tomographic image acquired at an earlier time and can recostruct by means of the position and orientation data of the slice S0 a two dimensional image along the same section plane or slice as the slice S0 using the high resolution image data of the three dimensional image. Now a link has been generated between the slice and section plane along which the probe is acquiring a real time image and the image data of the three dimensional image along the same slice or section plane, so that for every image acquired by the probe 3 a two-dimensional image along the same plane or slice can be reconstructed using the image data of the three-dimensional image.

[0078] Unce the registration link between ultrasound images and three-dimensional images has been generated, the method according to the invention provides the step of displacing the probe 3 as indicated by the arrow DS in figure 5 in order to generate a two-dimensional image along a slice or section plane S1 which contains the visual information data of the anatomical district, such as an organ, for example the heart which is needed for monitoring the positioning of the object in said anatomical district. In figure 5 the anatomical district AD is represented by a star and the inserted object to be positioned by a small circle indicated with OB.

[0079] The image along the slice S1 should be chosen such that it is the one giving the best morphological information for positioning the object OB.

[0080] According to the method of the present invention, once the two dimensional image along the slice S1 has been found, the probe 3 is held fixed in the posizion for generating images along the said slice S1. A two dimensional image is reconstructed by means of the position and orientation information of the slice S1 from the three-dimensional data in the same way as for the first registration step using the slice S0. The reconstructed two dimensional image along the slice S1 is displayed for example in the area 448 of a screen 48. The corresponding ultrasound image can be combined such as superimposed to the said reconstructed two dimensional image and displayed on a different region 548 of the screen. In the illustrated example the region 548 shows a result of a combination of the ultrasound and the reconstructed two dimensional image. The object OB derives from the ultrasound image while the anatomic image of the district AD is the reconstructed high resolution image of region 448. In a further region of the scereen indicated by 648 the ultrasound image of probe 3 along slice S1 can be displayed.

[0081] Several different way of displaying the said ultrasound images, reconstructed images and combination images are possible which may be for example using one and the same region and displaying the different images alternatively one to the other in a continuous sequence. The sequence may be also stopped or restarted by the user by means of a command signal, such as a button or a mouse click, or similar.

[0082] An alternative way is also displaying only the combination image of the reconstructed two-dimensional image and of the ultrasound image.

[0083] It has to be noticed that in the present figure 5, there is not shown the complete block diagram of the apparatus, but reference is made only to certain units which generate the relation to the more detailed description of the previous figures.

[0084] Once the said steps are carried out, the probe is maintained fixed in order to generate a sequence of images along the same section plane or slice S1 while the object OB is introduced and positioned in the anatomic district AD. The probe being fixed, no data has to be generated by the tracking unit 5 so that the influence on the tracking system of the at least partly metallic object during its positioning are irrelevant for the imaging. The slice S1 remains fixed and also the two dimensional image reconstructed from the three dimensional image data long the slice S1. The object being a good reflector, normally a better reflector than biologic tissues do not need high resolution imaging and are imaged very good by the propbe 3 in real time. By combining the ultrasound rael time images of the sai sequence of images along the slice S1 with the reconstructed high- resolution image the anatomy of the site at which the object has to be positioned are best visible as well as the object itself and its displacements in time during positioning operations relativelyt o the anatomy of the anatomic district AD. Some image data of the ultrasonic images relatively to the anatomic region may also be used to complete the high resolution image reconstructed from the three-dimensinal image data.

[0085] According to a further improvement of the above disclosed method and apparatus which can be provided in combination to the above disclosed method steps and apparatus as illustrated in figure 5, the invention provides also for controlling that during the acquisition of the sequence of ultrasound images by means of the probe 3 along the chosen slice S1, the probe is effectively held fixed so that the slice of each of the acquired images of the sequence is always the same one for every image.

[0086] For sake of completeness figure 5 shows an embodiment which comprises also the units for carrying out the above mentioned control. It has to be noticed that these additional units and the additional method steps carried oput by the said units can also be omitted in the more generic embodiment of the invention that has been disclosed in the above description.

[0087] According to the further improvement, the method provides steps for monitoring that the ecographic probe is held fixed in the position corresponding to the two dimensional image at the further section slice or plane S1 on which the probe 3 has been positioned in order to imagine the object OB to be inserted in the anatomic region AD. The said steps consist in freezing a first ecographic image taken at the said slice S1 and displaying the said freezed first image. The further ultrasound images of the sequence of images acquired along the same slice S1 along which the first freezed image has been acquired are then compared with the freezed image for detecting differences. If differences are detected this condition is signalled.

[0088] According to a first embodiment, the comparison of the displayed image corresponding to the freezed first image with each of the images of the sequence of images acquired along the same slice S1 as the freezed first image is made by visual check.

[0089] The first freezed image along the slice S1 and the sequence of images acquired after the said first one alogn the same slice S1 are displayed on a screen 48 in a different screen regions 148, 248.

[0090] Ather way of displaying the said images can be chosen such as for example alternatively displaying the freezed image and the currently acquired image of the sequence of images, or by superimposing the said freezed image with each image of the sequence of images.

[0091] According to a second embodiment the above comparison is made by processing of the image data relating to the first freezed image and to each of the images of the seuqnece of images following the freezed first one and being taken along the same slice S1 as the freezed first image. Processing is carried out by a comparison unit 50, comprising a comparator unit 55 executing a program which carry out a correlation algorithm on the image data of the said freezed image and on each image of the seuqnec of images.

[0092] Both the above embodiments can also be provided in combination allowing to carry out a visual comparison and a comparsion based on correlation processing of the images.

[0093] According to still a further improvement when the anatomical district to be imaged and in which the object has to be inserted is a moving organ, such as for example the heart, every one of the images acquired along the section plane or slice of the freezed first image including the said freezed first image are synchronized by and ECG signal.

[0094] The above steps allow to controll continuously that the probe is held always in a fixed position relatively to the imaged anatomical district, so that the slice or section plane along which the image is acquired is always the same during the entire duration of the operation. By signalling that a difference has been detected the user can immediately correct the position and orientation of the probe in order to bring the section plane or the slice along which the probe is currently acquiring images in coincidence with the section plane or slice aalong which the freezed first image has been acquired.

[0095] In relation to the above signaling, still a further improvement may provide the generation of visual indicators of the displacements which are needed to correct orienting again the probe in order to bring the section plane or the slice along which the probe is currently acquiring images in coincidence with the section plane or slice along which the freezed first image has been acquired. The said indicators are activated when the comparison of the image acquired at a certain instant with the freezed first image has revealed that the section plane or slice along which the said image has been acquired does not match with the section plane or slice at which the freezed first image has been acquired.

[0096] As it appears from figure 5, the said indications are computed either from the data of the probe tracking unit and/or also from the differences of slice S1 along which the images of the sequence of images are acquired. In the example of figure 5 this processing is carried out by the comparator unit 55.

[0097] As illustrated in the example of figure 5, the indications can consist in visual indications and/or acoustic indications. The visual indications can consist in arrows AR displayed on the screen 48, in a certain region 348 of the screen which can be also a region dedicated only for such indications AR. The arrows AR show the direction of the displacement of the probe 3 needed to correct the orientation of the probe 3 in order to bring the scanning slice of the probe again in coincidence with the slice S1 along which the freezed image has been acquired and all the other images of the sequence of images has to be also acquired. The arrows AR may further indicate an approximate length of the displacement in the direction of the arrow, by having arrow of different length which legth is proportional to the legth of the displacement and/o by having arrows of different thickness which thickness is proportional to the length of the displacement.

[0098] Acoustic signals may consist in simple beeps or tones or in vocal messages generated by a voice synthetiser indicating the kind of displacement such as rotation along the axis parallel to the scanning slice of the probe or along an axis perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the scanning been and/or translation forward (left) backward (right) or other indications. The acoustic indications are diffused by a loudspeaker 56.

[0099] Relating to the apparatus means 54, 51 are provided for freezing an ecographic image acquired at a certain instant and means for comparing each image of a sequence of ecographic images which has to be taken along the same slice S1 as the freezed image at following times than the said first freezed image.

[0100] Signalling means 56, 148, 248, 348 may be provided which signals the occurrence of differences between the images of the sequence of images and the freezed first image.

[0101] Also an ECG unit is provided which collects ECG data and which triggers the image acquisitions according to the ECG signal in or to acquire images which are synchronized one with respet to the other by ECG signals. In this case when considering the cardiologic application synchronization means that each image is acquired during the same period of the cardiac cycle as measured by the ECG. The ECG unit is not illustrated in the figures but its allocation in the block diagrams is evident for the skilled person

[0102] The display screen 48 can be provided with different regions 148, 248 for displaying the freezed image and the images of the sequence of images taken along the same slice S1 as the freezed image. Means can also be provided for changing the display modus and displaying tye freezed image and the images of the seuqnece of images in the same region in an alternate way or ina superimposed way of the freezed image and of each one of the images of the sequence of images.

[0103] A processing unit may be provided which carry out the above comparison by running comparison program using a correlation algorithm.

[0104] In figure 5 an example of a schematic embodiment is illustrated. The image data from the probe are sent to a storage and freeziong unit 54 which is synchronized with a clock 51 for indexing eaxch image with a time stamp which can be used as a parameter for calculating the memory address. The imnage to which the first time stamp of a sequence of time stamps is associated is freezed on the screen in the region 248. The images having the following time stamps are displayed one after the other in the correct time succession as their acquisition in the screen region 148. A visual comparation of the freezed image displayed in the region 248 with each of the images of the sequence of images displayed in the region 148 can be carried out.

[0105] In parallel as illustrated in figure 5 the image data of the freezed image and the image data of each of the images of the seunec of images are fed to a comparator unit 55, which executer a comparator program based on a correlation algorithm for determining each time an image of the sequence of images is acquired by the probe 3 if there is a difference of the said image of the sequence of images relatively to the freezed one. If the difference occur a signaling action visual or caoustic can be emitted by printing messages on the screen 48 poreferably in a dedicated area 348 or by emtitting acoustic messages by means of a loudspeaker 56.

[0106] The comparator may operate by processing the images with a correlation algortithm. The comparator can also be connected to the transmitter 5 of the tracking system in order to receive information about the position and orientation of the probe 3 and thus of the scanning slice. This information is used to determine that the differences are caused by a movement of the probe 3 such that the scanning slice is not anymore coincident with the chosen slice S1 and to infiorm the user that a correction action has to be executed in order to bring the scanning slice of the probe 3 again in coincidence with the chosen slice S1. Indications for the correction actions to be taken by the user can be printed on screen such as the arrow AR in the dedicated region 348 of the screen 48 and/or can be also of the acoustic kind being diffused by a horn 56.

[0107] Figures 6 and 7 illustrate respectively one echographic image and the corresponding image constructed along the same slice from the three dimensional tomographic image data relatively to a so calle LAX of the Left ventricle taken with a transthotacic approach.

[0108] In figure 6 and 7 the images are relative to a slice which renders visible the following anatomical details:

left ventricle indicated with LV

aorta indicated with Ao

left atrium indicated with LA

and descending Ao indicated with DA



[0109] The echographic image is taken along a so called parasternal LAX and it is possible to identify the following fiducial points:

Indicated with A1 an insertion of anterior and posterior mitral leaflet on mitral annulus

Indicated with A2 insertion of non-coronary and left coronary leaflet on aortic annulus

And indicated with A3 coronary sinus



[0110] Figure 7 illustrates the TAC image reconstructed from the three dimensional tomographich data along an image plane or slice which corresponds to the one along which the echographic image has been acquired.

[0111] The indentity of the image planes or slices is determined using the above mentioned fiducial points identified by the arrows A1, A2 and A3. The tomographic two dimensional image corresponds to the echigraphic image, this means that the two images are along the same plane or slice of the object imaged when the said fiducial points are all visible in the image and when the geometrical relative position of the said points is identical in the echographic image and in the tomographic image. This can be determined with different mathematical technicques well known in the art one example of which is the cross correlation.

[0112] Starting from this registration image the position of the ultrasound probe when acquiring further images at different slices is tracked and the position of the slice of each following image is determined by computation using the position of the slice of the first registration image and the displacement data of the probe. This computation is carried out for determining the slice position and orientation along which each further image has to be reconstructed from the tomographic three dimensional image data, thus displacing the probe has the meaning of determining a displacement of the slice along which the image to be displayed has to be reconstructed. This image can be the echographic one taken at real time or the said image can be the tomographic image reconstructed form the three dimensional image data at the same slice at which the echgraphic image has been acquired.

[0113] It is possible to display only the echographic image, only the tomographic image or both together in a side by side disposition or alternatively one to the other.


Claims

1. Imaging method for operating an imaging device for the monitoring of an anatomical region, in which region metallic objects (OB) or objects made at least partly of metal are present, with the metallic objects disturbing standard tracking systems wherein the device comprising at least a first three-dimensional diagnostic image acquisition means (2), at least a second two-dimensional image acquisition means (3), at least a storage unit (41) for storing image data acquired by the first acquisition means (2) and the second acquisition means (3), at least a registration and processing unit (4) which acquires two-dimensional images and associates them to three-dimensional images, at least a means for tracking (5) the displacement of said second two-dimensional diagnostic image acquisition means (3), at least a display unit, and in which the second image acquisition means is an ultrasound imaging system comprising a probe (3) and means for driving the probe to emit ultrasound beams and means for receiving reflected echoes and for generating images from the said echoes;
and the first image acquisition means is a computed axial tomography device (3); said method for operating the imaging device comprising the following steps:

a) acquiring a three-dimensional image of a specific anatomical district (1, AD) of the body under examination by the computed axial tomography device and storing said image data;

b) finding at least a reference point (13, 14, 15) within said anatomical district;

c) acquiring a two-dimensional image along or at a first section slice or plane (11, S0) of said anatomical district (1, AD) passing by said at least one reference point (13, 14, 15) using the ultrasound probe (3);

d) identifying said first section plane or slice (11, S0) of the acquired two-dimensional image, within the stored three-dimensional image;

e) constructing a two-dimensional image (45) with data of the three-dimensional image falling along said first section slice or plane (11, S0) which has been identified and corresponding to that of the acquired two-dimensional image;

f) moving said ultrasound probe (3) towards at least a further section slice or plane (12, S1) of said anatomical district (1, AD) having a position and/or orientation different than that of said first section slice or plane (11, S0) of step c);

g) tracking the displacement of said ultrasound probe (3) for obtaining the image at said further section slice or plane (12, S1);

h) identifying said further section slice or plane (12, S1) within the stored three-dimensional image by using data related to the tracking of the displacement of said ultrasound probe;

i) constructing a two-dimensional image (46) with data of the three-dimensional image falling along said further section slice or plane (12, S1) identified at step h);

1) displaying the two-dimensional image (46) obtained at step i) and keeping fixed in place said ultrasound probe (3) for generating images along said further section plane or slice (12, S1);

n) said section plane or said slice (12, S1) along which the ecographic image is acquired and along which the two-dimensional image is reconstructed from the three dimensional data being maintaned fixed and corresponding to the section plane comprising the metallic object (OB), while

o) in the displayed combined image deriving from the combination of the two dimensional image which has been recostructed from the three-dimensional data with the two-dimensional ecographic image, the contribution of the two-dimensional image recostructed from the three-dimensional data corresponds to the representation of the anatomical district (AD) and the contribution of the ecographic image corresponds at least to the representation of the metallic object (OB).


 
2. Imaging method according to claim 1 which method is for operating the imaging device for the cardiologic monitoring and the anatomical district is the cardiac district, the metallic object is a cardiac valve;
the said section plane or the said slice (12, S1) along which the ecographic image is acquired and along which the two-dimensional image is reconstructed from the three dimensional data corresponds to the section plane of the left ventricle so called LAX, the images being acquired by a transtoracic way, while
o) in the combined image deriving from the combination of the two dimensional image which has been recostructed from the three-dimensional data with the two-dimensional ecographic image, the contribution of the two-dimensional image recostructed from the three-dimensional data corresponds to the representation of the anatomical structure and the contribution of the ecographic image corresponds to the representation of the cardiac valve.
 
3. Method according to claim 1 or 2, characterized in that the two dimensional image reconstructed form the three dimensional image and the two dimensional ecographic image are displayed at the same time on a screen in two different regions of the screen which are one beside the other or one upper and one lower region or in the same region of the screen the said images being displayed alternatively one to the other or the two images are displayed on the same region of the screen being superposed or combined one to the other.
 
4. Imaging method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the ecographic images are acquired and generated in real time.
 
5. Imaging method according to one or more of the preceding claims wherein step c) is performed by mathematical algorithms, in particular autocorrelation functions.
 
6. Imaging method according to one or more of the preceding claims wherein there is provided a further step reducing the volume of the stored three-dimensional image.
 
7. Imaging method according to one or more of the preceding claims, wherein the acquisition of said three-dimensional image and of said two-dimensional image are triggered by an electrocardiogram signal.
 
8. Imaging method according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that it is used for monitoring moving organs.
 
9. Method according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that steps are provided for monitoring that the ecographic probe is held fixed in the position corresponding to the two dimensional image at the further section slice or plane (S1) the said steps being:

Freezing a first ecographic image taken at the said further section plane or slice (S1) and dispaying the said freezed first image;

the further images acquired along the said section plane or slice (S1) along which the first freezed image has been acquired being compared with the freezed image for detecting differences between the actual scanning slice of the image acquired and the slice (S1) along which th freezed image has been acquired;

Signaling the detection of said differences.


 
10. Method according to claim 9, in which each further image acquired along the further slice or section plane (S1) of the freezed first image are also displayed on the screen in a different screen region and said freezed first image or in the same region in an alternate way to the said freezed first image or superposed to the said freezed image and the comparison is made by visual comparation.
 
11. Method according to claim 9 or 10, in which the comparison is made by a comparison algorithm such as a correlation algorithm.
 
12. Method according to claim 11 in which the images acquired along the section plane or slice of the freezed first image are synchronized by and ECG signal.
 
13. Metod according to claim 11, in which the signaling means comprises means for indicating the kind and the direction fo the displacement of the probe (3) in order to bring the scanning slice of said probe in coincidence with the slice (S1) along which the freezed image has been acquired.
 
14. Imaging device for monitoring a body which is adapted to implement a method according to any of claims 1 - 13.
 


Ansprüche

1. Bildgebendes Verfahren zum Betreiben einer Bildgebungsvorrichtung zur Überwachung eines anatomischen Bereichs, in dem metallische Objekte (OB) oder zumindest teilweise aus Metall bestehende Gegenstände vorhanden sind, wobei die metallischen Objekte die Standard-Verfolgungssysteme stören, wobei die Vorrichtung mindestens ein erstes Erfassungsmittel (2) für dreidimensionale Diagnosebilder, mindestens ein zweites Erfassungsmittel (3) für zweidimensionale Diagnosebilder, zumindest eine Speichereinheit (41) zum Speichern von von dem ersten Erfassungsmittel (2) und dem zweiten Erfassungsmittel (3) erfassten Bilddaten, mindestens eine Registrier- und Verarbeitungseinheit (4), die zweidimensionale Bilder erfasst und dreidimensionalen Bildern zuordnet, mindestens ein Mittel zur Verfolgung (5) der Verschiebung des zweiten Erfassungsmittel (3) für zweidimensionale Diagnosebilder, zumindest eine Anzeigeeinheit, und wobei das zweite Bilderfassungsmittel ein Ultraschallbildgebungssystem ist, das eine Sonde (3) und Mittel zum Antreiben der Sonde zum Aussenden von Ultraschallstrahlen und Mittel zum Empfangen reflektierter Echos und zum Erzeugen von Bildern aus den genannten Echos umfasst; und das erste Bilderfassungsmittel eine Axialcomputertomographie-Vorrichtung (3) ist; wobei das Verfahren zum Betreiben der Bildgebungsvorrichtung folgende Schritte umfasst:

a) Erfassen eines dreidimensionalen Bildes eines bestimmten Bereiches (1, AD) des zu untersuchenden Körpers durch die Axialcomputertomographie-Vorrichtung und Speichern der Bilddaten;

b) Auffinden mindestens eines Referenzpunktes (13, 14, 15) innerhalb des anatomischen Bereiches;

c) Erfassen eines zweidimensionalen Bildes entlang oder an einer ersten Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (11, S0) des durch den mindestens einen Referenzpunkt (13, 14, 15) passierenden anatomischen Bereiches (1, AD) unter Verwendung der Ultraschallsonde (3);

d) Identifizieren der ersten Schnittebene oder -scheibe (11, S0) des erfassten zweidimensionalen Bildes innerhalb des gespeicherten dreidimensionalen Bildes;

e) Erstellen eines zweidimensionalen Bildes (45) mit Daten des dreidimensionalen Bildes, die entlang der identifizierten und der Schnittscheibe oder -ebene des erfassten zweidimensionalen Bildes entsprechenden ersten Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (11, S0) fallen;

f) Bewegen der Ultraschallsonde (3) in Richtung zumindest einer weiteren Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (12, S1) des anatomischen Bereiches (1, AD), die eine andere Position und/oder Orientierung als der ersten Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (11, S0) von Schritt c) aufweist;

g) Verfolgen der Verschiebung der Ultraschallsonde (3) zum Erhalten des Bildes im Bereich der weiteren Schnittscheibe oder - ebene (12, S1);

h) Identifizieren der weiteren Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (12, S1) innerhalb des gespeicherten dreidimensionalen Bildes unter Verwendung von Daten, die sich auf die Verfolgung der Verschiebung der Ultraschallsonde beziehen;

i) Erstellen eines zweidimensionalen Bildes (46) mit Daten des dreidimensionalen Bildes, die entlang der weiteren, in Schritt h) identifizierten Abschnittsscheibe oder -ebene (12, S1) fallen;

1) Anzeigen des in Schritt i) erhaltenen zweidimensionalen Bildes (46) und in Position Festhalten der Ultraschallsonde (3) zur Erzeugung von Bildern entlang der weiteren Schnittebene oder - scheibe (12, S1),

n) die Schnittebene oder die Schnittscheibe (12, S1), entlang der das echographische Bild erfasst wird und entlang der das zweidimensionale Bild aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruiert wird, fest und entsprechend der Schnittebene mit dem metallischen Objekt (OB) gehalten wird, während

o) in dem angezeigten zusammengesetzten Bild, gebildet aus der Kombination des aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruierten zweidimensionalen Bildes mit dem zweidimensionalen echographischen Bild, der Beitrag des aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruierten zweidimensionalen Bildes der Darstellung des anatomischen Bereiches (AD) entspricht und der Beitrag des echografischen Bildes mindestens der Darstellung des metallischen Objekts (OB) entspricht.


 
2. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Verfahren zum Betreiben der Bildgebungsvorrichtung für die kardiologische Überwachung vorgesehen ist und der anatomische Bereich der Herzbereich ist und das metallische Objekt ein Herzventil ist, wobei die Schnittebene oder die Schnittscheibe (12, S1), entlang der das echographische Bild erfasst wird und entlang der das zweidimensionale Bild aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruiert wird, der Schnittebene des linken Ventrikels, sogenannte LAX, entspricht, wobei die Bilder von transthorakal erfasst werden, während
o) im zusammengesetzten Bild, gebildet aus der Kombination des aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruierten zweidimensionalen Bildes mit dem zweidimensionalen echographischen Bild, der Beitrag des aus den dreidimensionalen Daten rekonstruierten zweidimensionalen Bildes der Darstellung der anatomischen Struktur entspricht und der Beitrag des echografischen Bildes der Darstellung des Herzventils entspricht.
 
3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass das aus dem dreidimensionalen Bild rekonstruierte zweidimensionale Bild und das zweidimensionale echographische Bild gleichzeitig auf einem Bildschirm in zwei verschiedenen Bereichen des Bildschirms angezeigt werden, die sich nebeneinander befinden, oder in einem oberen und einem unteren Bereich oder im gleichen Bereich des Bildschirms, wobei die Bilder alternierend zueinander oder die beiden Bilder auf demselben Bereich des Bildschirms übereinander liegend oder miteinander kombiniert angezeigt werden.
 
4. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass die echographischen Bilder in Echtzeit erfasst und erzeugt werden.
 
5. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach einem oder mehreren der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei Schritt c) durch mathematische Algorithmen, insbesondere Autokorrelationsfunktionen, durchgeführt wird.
 
6. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach einem oder mehreren der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei ein weiterer Schritt vorgesehen ist, der das Volumen des gespeicherten dreidimensionalen Bildes reduziert.
 
7. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach einem oder mehreren der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Erfassung des dreidimensionalen Bildes und des zweidimensionalen Bildes durch ein Elektrokardiogramm-Signal ausgelöst wird.
 
8. Bildgebendes Verfahren nach einem oder mehreren der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass es zur Überwachung beweglicher Organe verwendet wird.
 
9. Verfahren nach einem oder mehreren der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass Schritte vorgesehen sind, um zu überwachen, dass die echographische Sonde in der dem zweidimensionalen Bild entsprechenden Position an der weiteren Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (S1) fixiert gehalten wird, wobei folgende Schritte umfasst sind:

- Einfrieren eines in der weiteren Schnittebene oder -scheibe (Sl) aufgenommenen ersten echographischen Bildes und Anzeigen des genannten eingefrorenen ersten Bildes;

- Vergleichen der weiteren Bilder, die entlang der genannten Schnittebene oder -scheibe (S1) erfasst worden sind, entlang der das erste eingefrorene Bild erfasst wurde, mit dem eingefrorenen Bild, um Unterschiede zwischen der aktuell abgetastete Scheibe des erfassten Bildes und der Scheibe (S1), entlang der das eingefrorene Bild erfasst worden ist, festzustellen;

- Signalisieren der Feststellung dieser Unterschiede.


 
10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, bei dem jedes weitere entlang der weiteren Schnittscheibe oder -ebene (S1) des eingefrorenen ersten Bildes erfasste Bild ebenfalls in einem anderen Bildschirmbereich auf dem Bildschirm angezeigt wird und das eingefrorenen erste Bild im gleichen Bereich alternierend mit dem eingefrorenen Bild oder dem eingefrorenen Bild überlagert angezeigt wird und der Vergleich durch Sichtvergleich erfolgt.
 
11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9 oder 10, bei dem der Vergleich durch einen Vergleichsalgorithmus wie einen Korrelationsalgorithmus erfolgt.
 
12. Verfahren nach Anspruch 11, bei dem die entlang der Schnittebene oder -scheibe des eingefrorenen ersten Bildes erfassten Bilder durch ein EKG-Signal synchronisiert werden.
 
13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 11, bei dem das Signalisierungsmittel Mittel zur Anzeige der Art und der Richtung der Verschiebung der Sonde (3) umfasst, um die Abtastscheibe der Sonde in Übereinstimmung mit der Scheibe (S1) zu bringen, entlang der das eingefrorene Bild erfasst worden ist.
 
14. Bildgebungsvorrichtung zur Überwachung eines Körpers, die zur Durchführung eines Verfahrens nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 13 eingerichtet ist.
 


Revendications

1. Méthode d'imagerie pour faire fonctionner un dispositif d'imagerie pour le monitorage d'une région anatomique, dans la région étant présents des objets métalliques (OB) ou des objets constitués au moins partiellement de métal, les objets métalliques perturbant les systèmes de poursuite standard, dans laquelle le dispositif comprend au moins des premiers moyens d'acquisition d'images diagnostiques tridimensionnelles (2), au moins des deuxièmes moyens d'acquisition d'images bidimensionnelles (3),
au moins une unité de stockage (41) pour stocker les données d'image acquises par les premiers moyens d'acquisition (2) et les seconds moyens d'acquisition (3),
au moins une unité d'enregistrement et de traitement (4) qui acquiert des images bidimensionnelles et les combine à des images tridimensionnelles,
au moins des moyen de poursuite (5) pour poursuivre le déplacement desdits deuxièmes moyens d'acquisition d'images diagnostiques bidimensionnelles (3), au moins une unité de visualisation, et dans laquelle les deuxièmes moyens d'acquisition d'images est un système d'imagerie à ultrasons comprenant une sonde (3) et des moyens pour commander la sonde afin qu'elle émette des faisceaux à ultrasons et des moyens pour recevoir des échos réfléchis et pour générer des images à partir desdits échos;
et les premiers moyens d'acquisition d'images sont un dispositif (3) de tomographie axiale calculée par ordinateur;
ladite méthode de fonctionnement du dispositif d'imagerie comprenant les étapes suivantes:

a) acquérir une image tridimensionnelle d'une région anatomique spécifique (1, AD) du corps sous examen par le dispositif de tomographie axiale calculée par ordinateur et stocker lesdites données d'image;

b) trouver au moins un point de référence (13, 14, 15) à l'intérieur de ladite région anatomique;

c) acquérir une image bidimensionnelle le long ou au niveau d'une première tranche ou plan de coupe (11, S0) de ladite région anatomique (1, AD) passant par ledit au moins un point de référence (13, 14, 15) en utilisant la sonde à ultrasons (3);

d) identifier ledit premier plan ou tranche de coupe (11, S0) de l'image bidimensionnelle acquise, dans l'image tridimensionnelle stockée;

e) construire une image bidimensionnelle (45) avec des données de l'image tridimensionnelle tombant le long de ladite première tranche ou plan de coupe (11, S0) qui a été identifiée et correspondant à celle de l'image bidimensionnelle acquise;

f) déplacer ladite sonde à ultrasons (3) vers au moins une autre tranche ou plan de coupe (12, S1) de ladite région anatomique (1, AD) ayant une position et/ou orientation différente de celle de ladite première tranche ou plan de coupe (11, S0) de l'étape c);

g) suivre le déplacement de ladite sonde à ultrasons (3) pour obtenir l'image au niveau de ladite tranche ou plan de coupe supplémentaire (12, S1);

h) identifier ladite tranche ou plan de section supplémentaire (12, S1) dans l'image tridimensionnelle stockée en utilisant des données liées à la poursuite du déplacement de ladite sonde à ultrasons;

i) construire une image bidimensionnelle (46) avec des données de l'image tridimensionnelle tombant le long de ladite première tranche ou plan de coupe (12, S1) supplémentaire identifiée à l'étape h);

l) visualiser l'image bidimensionnelle (46) obtenue à l'étape i) et maintenir fixe en place ladite sonde à ultrasons (3) pour générer des images le long dudit plan ou tranche de coupe supplémentaire (12, S1) ;

n) ledit plan de coupe, ou ladite tranche, (12, S1) le long duquel l'image échographique est acquise et le long duquel l'image bidimensionnelle est reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles étant maintenu fixe et correspondant au plan de coupe comprenant l'objet métallique (OB), tandis que

o) dans l'image combinée visualisée qui résulte de la combinaison de l'image bidimensionnelle qui a été reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles avec l'image échographique bidimensionnelle, la contribution de l'image bidimensionnelle reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles correspond à la représentation de la région anatomique (AD) et la contribution de l'image échographique correspond au moins à la représentation de l'objet métallique (OB).


 
2. Méthode d'imagerie selon la revendication 1, la méthode étant destinée à faire fonctionner le dispositif d'imagerie pour le monitorage cardiologique et la région anatomique étant la région cardiaque, l'objet métallique étant une valve cardiaque;
ledit plan de coupe, ou ladite tranche, (12, S1) le long duquel l'image échographique est acquise et le long duquel l'image bidimensionnelle est reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles correspond au plan de coupe du ventricule gauche dit LAX, les images étant acquises par voie transthoracique, tandis que
ο) dans l'image combinée qui résulte de la combinaison de l'image bidimensionnelle qui a été reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles avec l'image échographique bidimensionnelle, la contribution de l'image bidimensionnelle reconstruite à partir des données tridimensionnelles correspond à la représentation de la structure anatomique et la contribution de l'image échographique correspond à la représentation de la valve cardiaque.
 
3. Méthode selon la revendication 1 ou 2, caractérisée en ce que l'image bidimensionnelle reconstruite à partir de l'image tridimensionnelle et l'image échographique bidimensionnelle sont visualisées en même temps sur un écran dans deux régions différentes de l'écran qui sont l'une à côté de l'autre ou une région supérieure et une région inférieure ou dans la même région de l'écran, lesdites images étant visualisées alternativement l'une à l'autre ou les deux images étant visualisées sur la même région de l'écran en étant superposées ou combinées l'une à l'autre.
 
4. Méthode d'imagerie selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans laquelle les images échographiques sont acquises et générées en temps réel.
 
5. Méthode d'imagerie selon une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes dans laquelle l'étape c) est réalisée par des algorithmes mathématiques, en particulier des fonctions d'autocorrélation.
 
6. Méthode d'imagerie selon une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, dans laquelle est prévue une étape supplémentaire de réduction du volume de l'image tridimensionnelle stockée.
 
7. Méthode d'imagerie selon une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, dans laquelle l'acquisition de ladite image tridimensionnelle et de ladite image bidimensionnelle sont déclenchées par un signal d'électrocardiogramme.
 
8. Méthode d'imagerie selon une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisée en ce que elle est utilisée pour le monitorage d'organes en mouvement.
 
9. Méthode selon une ou plusieurs des revendications précédentes, caractérisée en ce que sont prévues des étapes pour surveiller que la sonde échographique soit maintenue fixe dans la position correspondant à l'image bidimensionnelle au niveau de la tranche ou du plan de coupe supplémentaire (SI), lesdites étapes étant:

Figer une première image échographique prise au niveau dudit plan ou de ladite tranche de coupe supplémentaire (S1) et visualiser ladite première image figée;

les autres images acquises le long dudit plan, ou tranche, de coupe (S1) le long duquel la première image figée a été acquise étant comparées à l'image figée pour détecter les différences entre la tranche de balayage réelle de l'image acquise et la tranche (S1) le long de laquelle l'image figée a été acquise;

Signaler la détection desdites différences.


 
10. Méthode selon la revendication 9, dans laquelle chaque image supplémentaire acquise le long de la tranche ou du plan de coupe supplémentaire (S1) de la première image figée est également visualisée sur l'écran dans une région d'écran différente et ladite première image figée ou dans la même région d'une manière alternative à ladite première image figée ou superposée à ladite image figée et la comparaison est effectuée par comparaison visuelle.
 
11. Méthode selon la revendication 9 ou 10, dans laquelle la comparaison est faite par un algorithme de comparaison tel qu'un algorithme de corrélation.
 
12. Méthode selon la revendication 11 dans laquelle les images acquises le long du plan ou tranche de coupe de la première image figée sont synchronisées par un signal ECG.
 
13. Méthode selon la revendication 11, dans laquelle les moyens de signalisation comprennent des moyens pour indiquer le type et la direction du déplacement de la sonde (3) afin de faire coïncider la tranche de balayage de ladite sonde avec la tranche (S1) le long de laquelle l'image figée a été acquise.
 
14. Dispositif d'imagerie pour le monitorage d'un corps qui est adapté pour exécuter un procédé selon quelconque des revendications 1 à 13.
 




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REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description