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12 April 2005 Robust real-time instrument tracking in ultrasound images
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Minimally invasive surgery in combination with ultrasound (US) imaging imposes high demands on the surgeon's hand-eye-coordination capabilities. A possible solution to reduce these requirements is minimally invasive robotic surgery in which the instrument is guided by visual servoing towards the goal defined by the surgeon in the US image. This approach requires robust tracking of the instrument in the US image sequences which is known to be difficult due to poor image quality. This paper presents algorithms and results of first tracking experiments. Adaptive thresholding based on Otsu's method allows to cope with large intensity variations of the instrument echo. Median filtering of the binary image and subsequently applied morphological operations suppress noise and echo artefacts. A fast run length code based labelling algorithm allows for real-time labelling of the regions. A heuristic exploiting region size and region velocity helps to overcome ambiguities. The overall computation time is less than 20 ms per frame on a standard PC. The tracking algorithm requires no information about texture and shape which are known to be very unreliable in US image sequences. Experimental results for two different instrument materials (polyvinyl chloride and polyurethane) are given, showing the performance of the proposed approach. Choosing the appropriate material, trajectories are smooth and only few outliers occur.
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Tobias Ortmaier, Marie-Aude Vitrani, Guillaume Morel, and Samuel Pinault "Robust real-time instrument tracking in ultrasound images", Proc. SPIE 5750, Medical Imaging 2005: Ultrasonic Imaging and Signal Processing, (12 April 2005);

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