Ultrasound is a low-cost, non-ionizing, interactive imaging modality, used commonly in clinics as an invaluable tool for screening, diagnostics, and therapy guidance. However, its image formation physics and interactive nature makes it substantially user-dependent, for instance some pathology diagnosed by one sonographer may be missed by another one, due to poor transducer navigation or image interpretation. Therefore, ultrasound examinations require a high level of expertise, involving several technical and practical skills, which usually requires years to reach a sufficient level of competence.
In particular in OB/GYN, in-vivo training opportunities of navigation skills with volunteers for educational and residency training programs are also limited by the discomfort involved, e.g. in transvaginal examinations. Also, rare clinical case are not always available. Current ultrasound training systems lack image realism, prohibiting the training of image interpretation and limiting the training of navigation skills.
In this project, we aim at developing virtual-reality simulators for ultrasound training. In such a life-like simulation, trainees shall steer a (mock) transducer over a (mock) torso while watching the simulated image scenery on the (ultrasound) screen and being assessed via objective (computed) metrics. We focus on OB/GYN applications due to difficulties in finding volunteers, its large market potential, and the outstanding expertise of our team in this field. Nevertheless, the acquired know-how and developed techniques will translate to other anatomical targets and clinical scenarios in the future.