Robotic-Assisted Ultrasound for Fetal Imaging: Evolution from Single-Arm to Dual-Arm System
The development of robotic-assisted extracorporeal ultrasound systems has a long history and a number of projects have been proposed since the 1990s focusing on different technical aspects. These aim to resolve the deficiencies of on-site manual manipulation of hand-held ultrasound probes. This paper presents the recent ongoing developments of a series of bespoke robotic systems, including both single-arm and dual-arm versions, for a project known as intelligent Fetal Imaging and Diagnosis (iFIND). After a brief review of the development history of the extracorporeal ultrasound robotic system used for fetal and abdominal examinations, the specific aim of the iFIND robots, the design evolution, the implementation details of each version, and the initial clinical feedback of the iFIND robot series are presented. Based on the preliminary testing of these newly-proposed robots on 42 volunteers, the successful and reliable working of the mechatronic systems were validated. Analysis of a participant questionnaire indicates a comfortable scanning experience for the volunteers and a good acceptance rate to being scanned by the robots.
This work was supported by the Welcome Trust IEH Award  and by the Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Medical Engineering [WT203148/Z/16/Z]. The authors acknowledge financial support from the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre award to Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
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