Auditory Display for Ultrasound Scan Completion

Clinicians manually acquire sequences of 2D ultrasound images to evaluate the local situs in real-time. 3D volumes reconstructed from these sequences give clinicans a spatial overview of the area. Although 3D renderings are beneficial, drawbacks prohibit efficient interaction during acquisition. Current 2D image acquisition methods provide only one audible beep after each 2D scan added to the 3D volume, leaving the clinician without feedback about scan quality. This produces highly inhomogenous intensities of the anatomical structure with imaging artifacts, resulting in overexposed images and reduced image quality. Low-quality volumes must be reacquired, causing clinician frustration and wasted operation time. Auditory display maps information to parameters of sound synthesizers so a user can “hear” underlying data. This has been investigated to guide instruments or warn when clinicians approach risks, aiding clinicians to focus on the situs while still receiving information.

We harness auditory display for acquiring complete, high-quality scans. Our auditory display employs a granular synthesizer with 9 simultaneous sawtooth oscillators. An array with 100 cells represents an ultrasound volume, for which each cell represents one scan, with values ranging from 0 to 100 as the completeness of each individual scan. The synthesizer maps completeness of the current and 8 neighboring cells to pitch, pitch variation, noisiness, low-pass filter rolloff frequency, and stereo width of 9 grains. The synthesizer mimics a vacuum sucking up dust: incomplete areas are heard as scattered, noisier, higher pitch, whereas complete areas are stable, less noisy, and lower pitched. Pilot studies show the auditory display allows high-quality, efficient individual and overall scan completion completely without a monitor. Thus, using auditory display to augment US acquisition could ensure higher-quality scans and improve reconstruction while reducing the use of monitors during the procedure and helping clinicians keep their view on the situs.