Friday, 10 July 2015

Super-resolution and Speckle Removal in Ultrasonography

Patent Filing No. 1296/KOL/2010, PCT application No. PCT/IN2011/000789, Countries filed: USA, South Korea: An improved ultrasound imaging method/technique for speckle reduction/suppression in an improved ultra sound imaging system

Patent Filing No: 636/KOL/2010: Super-resolution on Polar Domain Data

Award won
One of the Top 50 technologies of DST Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Program Award 2015

First picture of most babies is captured before their birth using ultrasound (US) imaging. However, US imaging lacks spatial resolution and suffers from multiplicative nature of speckle noise. Newer technologies require more hardware that drives the cost but does not increase the image quality in the depth of the body. Our invention using super resolution (SR) and novel speckle removal algorithm improves image quality and increases operating depth of imaging with a minimal increment in cost. Rural India (>6 lakh villages) provides a big market to exploit the benefit of low cost SR enhanced US system with reduction in maternal mortality rate and improving surgical outcomes. Estimated reduction in cost would be at least 70-80% in comparison with a more hardware intensive equipment.

Technical summary
Ultrasound is safest, most inexpensive and highly portable method of imaging making it first line of imaging in most clinical conditions. However, it is characterized by low resolution as compared to other imaging techniques. Also, depth of penetration decreases with increase in operating frequency. We have invented novel speckle removal algorithm which together with super-resolution technique helps to significantly enhance resolution and operating depth of ultrasound imaging. These improvements make even subtle changes in diseased conditions more visible for better clinical diagnosis. Our invention does not need significant change in ultrasound equipment hardware (sensors and signal processing).  Therefore our invention provides better image quality at no added cost.

Innovation is related to design and fabrication of Ultrasound Imaging System.
- Using multiple images taken by low cost hardware Super Resolution technique. can produce better quality image
- Combining scan conversion with post processing helps to get better speckle noise suppression with lower computation.
- Only a modest increase in computation capability resulting in better image means reduction of Ultrasound imaging system
- Areas of the body with low motion, e.g. abdomen, neonatal brain, musculoskeletal, etc. are ideal for such imaging.
- Increase in image quality helps to increase the operating depth of the Ultrasound imaging systems.

Commercial applications
SR enhanced US systems have large market potential due to significant reduction in cost. US equipment market will be $6.2 billion by 2019. 2-D US imaging is 50% of existing market. Assuming SR forms 5% of 2-D US imaging equipment value, the market potential for our product is $0.15M. If we captured 10% of 2-D US market share by 2019, estimated market value for product would be $150,000 per year. Algorithms for SR have been developed and have been tested with US simulator and now it should be integrated with US equipment for clinical efficacy before selling.

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