CS Seminar: Use of 3D Ultrasound Imaging in Diagnosis, Treatment and Research

August 4, 2011
Location: IRMACS 10900
Presenter: Prof. Aaron Fenster, Scientist and Director of the Imaging Research Laboratories, Robarts Research Institute (Ontario)


The last two decades have witnessed unprecedented developments of new imaging systems making use of 3D visualization.  These new technologies have revolutionized diagnostic radiology, as they provide the clinician with information about the interior of the human body never before available. Ultrasound imaging is an important cost-effective technique used routinely in the management of a number of diseases.  However, 2D viewing of 3D anatomy, using conventional ultrasound, limits our ability to quantify and visualize the anatomy and guide therapy, because multiple 2D images must be integrated mentally.  This practice is inefficient, and leads to variability and incorrect diagnoses.  Also, since the 2D ultrasound image represents a thin plane at an arbitrary angle in the body, reproduction of this plane at a later time is difficult.

Over the past 2 decades, investigators have addressed these limitations by developing 3D ultrasound techniques. In this paper we describe developments of 3D ultrasound imaging instrumentation and techniques for use in diagnosis and image-guided interventions.  As ultrasound imaging is an interactive imaging modality, providing the physician with real-time visualization of anatomy and function, the development of image analysis and guidance tools is challenging. Typically, these tools require segmentation, classification, tracking and visualization of pathology and instruments to be executed in real-time, accurately, reproducibly and robustly.  As an illustration of these needs, we will present some diagnostic and image-guided intervention applications that would benefit from these developments. Examples will be given for imaging various organs, such as the prostate, carotid arteries, and breast, and for the use in 3D ultrasound-guided prostate therapy. In addition, we describe analysis methods to be used for quantitative analysis of disease progression and regression.


Dr. Fenster received his PhD degree in 1976 from the Department of Medical Biophysics of the University of Toronto for research under the supervision of Dr. H. E. Johns.  His first academic appointment was at the Department of Radiology and Medical Biophysics of the University of Toronto from 1979 to 1987, and the Director of the Radiological Research laboratories of the Department of Radiology.  In 1987 he moved to London and became a Scientist and founding Director of the Imaging Research Laboratories (IRL) at the Robarts Research Institute and Professor at The University of Western Ontario (UWO) in Radiology and Medical Biophysics. Under his leadership, the IRL has grown to a staff of 250 today.  In addition to his leadership at the Robarts, he is the founder and Associate Director of new interdisciplinary graduate Program at UWO in Biomedical Engineering, combining strengths of basic scientists, engineers and clinician scientists in 3 faculties (Medicine & Dentistry, Engineering and Health Sciences). He is also the Chair of the basic Science Division of the Department of Medical Imaging at UWO. This Division combines the strengths in imaging research across London’s Institutions, which combined, makes the London medical imaging research community one of the largest in the world with over 350 staff and students and 100M in research equipment.  Currently, he holds a Canada Research Chair-Tier 1 in Biomedical Engineering and he is the recipient of the 2007 Premier’s Award for Innovative Leadership.  He is the first recipient of the Premier’s (Ontario) Discovery Award for Innovation and Leadership (2007), the Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research at the UWO (2008), and the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists (COMP) Gold Medal Award (2010).

Fenster’s group has focused on the development of 3D ultrasound imaging with diagnostic and surgical/therapeutic cancer applications in humans as well as mouse research models. His team developed the world’s firsts in 3D ultrasound imaging of the carotids and prostate, 3D ultrasound guided prostate cryosurgery and brachytherapy, 3D ultrasound guided prostate and breast biopsy for early diagnosis of cancer and 3D ultrasound images of mouse tumours and their vasculature.

Fenster’s research has resulted in 37 patents (27 awarded and 10 pending) and the formation of two companies in London (Life Imaging Systems and Enhanced Vision Systems), with Fenster as a founding scientist.  In addition, some of his patents have been licensed to 11 different companies, which have commercialized them for world-wide distribution.


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