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Intraoperative Needle Tip Tracking with an Integrated Fibre-Optic Ultrasound Sensor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Christian Baker, Miguel Xochicale, Fang-Yu Lin, Sunish Mathews, Francois Joubert, Dzhoshkun Shakir, Richard Miles, Charles A. Mosse, Tianrui Zhao, Weidong Liang, Yada Kunpalin, Brian P. Dromey, Talisa Mistry, Neil J Sebire, Edward Z. Zhang, Sebastien Ourselin, Paul Beard, Anna David, Adrien E. Desjardins, Tom Vercauteren & 1 more Wenfeng Xia

Original languageEnglish
Article number9035
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number23
Early online date22 Nov 2022
Accepted/In press16 Nov 2022
E-pub ahead of print22 Nov 2022
Published22 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust [203148/Z/16/Z, WT101957, 203145Z/16/Z], the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) (NS/A000027/1, NS/A000050/1, NS/A000049/1) and the European Research Council (74119). For the purpose of open access, the authors have applied a CC BY public copyright license to any author-accepted manuscript version arising from this submission. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.


King's Authors


Ultrasound is an essential tool for guidance of many minimally-invasive surgical and interventional procedures, where accurate placement of the interventional device is critical to avoid adverse events. Needle insertion procedures for anaesthesia, fetal medicine and tumour biopsy are commonly ultrasound-guided, and misplacement of the needle may lead to complications such as nerve damage, organ injury or pregnancy loss. Clear visibility of the needle tip is therefore critical, but visibility is often precluded by tissue heterogeneities or specular reflections from the needle shaft. This paper presents the in vitro and ex vivo accuracy of a new, real-time, ultrasound needle tip tracking system for guidance of fetal interventions. A fibre-optic, Fabry-Pérot interferometer hydrophone is integrated into an intraoperative needle and used to localise the needle tip within a handheld ultrasound field. While previous, related work has been based on research ultrasound systems with bespoke transmission sequences, the new system—developed under the ISO 13485 Medical Devices quality standard—operates as an adjunct to a commercial ultrasound imaging system and therefore provides the image quality expected in the clinic, superimposing a cross-hair onto the ultrasound image at the needle tip position. Tracking accuracy was determined by translating the needle tip to 356 known positions in the ultrasound field of view in a tank of water, and by comparison to manual labelling of the the position of the needle in B-mode US images during an insertion into an ex vivo phantom. In water, the mean distance between tracked and true positions was 0.7 ± 0.4 mm with a mean repeatability of 0.3 ± 0.2 mm. In the tissue phantom, the mean distance between tracked and labelled positions was 1.1 ± 0.7 mm. Tracking performance was found to be independent of needle angle. The study demonstrates the performance and clinical compatibility of ultrasound needle tracking, an essential step towards a first-in-human study.

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