DopUS-Net: Quality-Aware Robotic Ultrasound Imaging Based on Doppler Signal

Zhongliang Jiang, Felix Duelmer, Nassir Navab

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Medical ultrasound (US) is widely used to evaluate and stage vascular diseases, in particular for the preliminary screening program, due to the advantage of being radiation-free. However, automatic segmentation of small tubular structures (e.g., the ulnar artery) from cross-sectional US images is still challenging. To address this challenge, this paper proposes the DopUS-Net and a vessel re-identification module that leverage the Doppler effect to enhance the final segmentation result. Firstly, the DopUS-Net combines the Doppler images with B-mode images to increase the segmentation accuracy and robustness of small blood vessels. It incorporates two encoders to exploit the maximum potential of the Doppler signal and recurrent neural network modules to preserve sequential information. Input to the first encoder is a two-channel duplex image representing the combination of the grey-scale Doppler and B-mode images to ensure anatomical spatial correctness. The second encoder operates on the pure Doppler images to provide a region proposal. Secondly, benefiting from the Doppler signal, this work first introduces an online artery re-identification module to qualitatively evaluate the real-time segmentation results and automatically optimize the probe pose for enhanced Doppler images. This quality-aware module enables the closed-loop control of robotic screening to further improve the confidence and robustness of image segmentation. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed approach with the re-identification process can significantly improve the accuracy and robustness of the segmentation results (Dice score: from <inline-formula> <tex-math notation="LaTeX">$0.54$</tex-math> </inline-formula> to <inline-formula> <tex-math notation="LaTeX">$0.86$</tex-math> </inline-formula>; intersection over union: from <inline-formula> <tex-math notation="LaTeX">$0.47$</tex-math> </inline-formula> to <inline-formula> <tex-math notation="LaTeX">$0.78$</tex-math> </inline-formula>). <italic>Note to Practitioners</italic>&#x2014;The Doppler signal is important for the diagnosis of vascular disease, e.g., peripheral arterial disease, in clinical practices, nevertheless it is not of similar significance for state-of-the-art robotic ultrasound (US) examination systems yet. This paper explores various neural network structures to effectively extract the blood vessels from US images by incorporating the Doppler signal into the segmentation process. The final DopUS structure with two encoders extracting differentiated information from two different inputs and fusing the latent feature representations in the bottleneck layer can also inspire other tasks like multi-senor fusion. In addition, this work developed a Doppler-based tracker to assess the quality of the segmentation results in real-time. The assessment is subsequently used for a quality-aware module that enables closed-loop control of the robotic screening. Preliminary physical experiments suggest that the quality-aware robotic screening system can improve the confidence and robustness of autonomous US examination results. In the future, the Doppler signal could also be used to support clinical diagnosis. We believe the proposed quality-aware autonomous screening system is important for the development of large-scale robotic US screening programs. It will not only benefit the examination of limb arteries but also other vascular structures, e.g., carotid or aorta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • 3D visualization
  • Arteries
  • Biomedical imaging
  • Doppler effect
  • Image segmentation
  • Robotic ultrasound
  • Robots
  • Three-dimensional displays
  • Ultrasonic imaging
  • ultrasound segmentation
  • vessel segmentation


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