What are the most exciting features coming out of ultrasound research?
• 3D/4D automation with real-time post-processing
• MRI/US fusion – has been usefully employed in gyne. cancer
• AI and deep learning is definitely at the forefront of the recent advances
• Functional information on target organs such as the placenta with tools including Volume Flow and FMBV
• Novel US techniques such as wave reflection in the umbilical artery
• Novel post processing techniques such as virtual reality representations
Do the panel think the advances have moved from hardware towards software solutions?
• Does post processing need to be real-time? Would end users be prepared to wait for reporting like MRI or CT reports if it meant improved information?
• How can we improve standardization to ensure data can be shared and novel techniques translated to other researchers/clinicians?
• The most exciting advances have come from post-processing software which can generate standardized measures such as Fractional Limb Volume and Fractional Moving Blood Volume
Is there room for novel hardware?
• Attention has been paid to 'stitching' images together to increase the size of the volume captured
• Could this be improved by spatial monitoring of where the probe is?
• Is there a role for sensors on the body surface? Possibly contoured? 3D US tomography
• Can the US probe be radically changed to generate a 'half-pipe' arrangement similar to CT/MRI to increase 3D images?
What are the major barriers to clinical translation?
• Lack of standardization (machine settings etc.)
• Lack of 'end-user' understanding of the physics of US
• Lack of co-operation from the US manufacturers to share the raw data (No incentivisation yet sharing happens with other imaging modalities such as MRI)
• Lack of ground truth/gold standards e.g. for parameters such as oxygenation and novel techniques such as SMI
• Not able to use US contrast agents in pregnancy
Is there a role for animal models to generate 'gold-standard, ground truth' data?
• Should this be cheaper smaller animals with individualised US probes?
• Should we be using larger animals such as porcine models so that we can use the same US machines and it is directly translatable?
• There definitely appears to be a role for animals to validate techniques/measures such as comparing 3D-FMBV against radio-active microparticles to demonstrate it is indeed a measure of tissue perfusion
Is there a role for these novel technologies in Low income countries?
• The panel felt education in US techniques including AI assisted pattern recognition and automated biometry would be the most useful in this situation
• The new smart phone US hardware will hopefully revolutionise accessibility to US
Please feel free to comment on any of these identified themes and questions.