Automated Conformal Ultrasound Scanning for Breast Screening
Automatic ultrasound breast screening methods are now in use, but not all the existing systems can provide a complete breast scan including axillary lymph nodes. Moreover, the existing systems perform scanning with a fixed scanning path and manual transducer adjustment is often required. It is therefore important to develop a scan system adapted to the body shape automatically. The proposed system consists of a three dimension (3D) camera, a robot arm, a computer, and a clinical ultrasonic scanner. A proper scan area can be determined by manual selection or algorithm automatically. An adaptive scan path covering the selected scan area is generated based on body shape, and the ultrasound images were acquired at each imaging position. In addition, a pressure sensor is used to maintain the contact to ensure the examinee’s comfort during scanning. The proposed system is able to perform automatic scanning and adapt to front and side areas of the breast as well as the axillary area. By examining a breast phantom, approximately 75 s scan time was required for a scan area of 100 mm × 50 mm with scan speed of 5 mm/s. The proposed system could provide personalized ultrasound scanning and extend the scan area to include the axillary lymph nodes, which has not been achieved by existing automatic ultrasound scanning systems. The probe positions and orientations allows 3D volume-data reconstruction. In the future, computer aided detection software can be integrated with the proposed system for fully automated ultrasound breast screening.