A new scanning approach for limb extremities using a water bag in freehand 3-D ultrasound

Q. H. Huang, Yongping Zheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


3-D ultrasound (US) can significantly improve the visualization of musculoskeletal tissues, such as residual limbs, feet and hands. Traditionally, mechanical scanning is normally required to obtain the entire volume of these limb extremities. In this paper, a new scanning approach using a water bag was described to collect the complete volume of various tissues surrounding bones. The water bag was used to contain the limb extremity and the scanning was conducted on its external surface from different directions. The recorded 2-D US images containing complete anatomic information surrounding the bones from different directions were used to form full 3-D volumes of the limb extremities. A plastic auxiliary apparatus was designed to hold the water bag and support the subject's limb part with an armrest. A corresponding algorithm was proposed to remove invalid image information within each sweep by a separating plane defined semiautomatically. Two phantoms were used to test the repeatability and accuracy of the imaging. The distance between two plastic bands attached to a plastic tube filled with US gel measured by a micrometer and from the four reconstructed volumes were 39.03 ± 0.36 mm and 39.2 ± 0.5 mm, respectively. The diameter, height and volume of a silicone cylinder phantom measured for the 10 reconstructed volumes were 40.2 ± 1.4 mm, 12.9 ± 1.0 mm and 16400 ± 1600 mm3, respectively. They agreed with the corresponding results obtained by the micrometer, which were 41.29 ± 0.13 mm, 12.98 ± 0.17 mm and 17370 ± 140 mm3, respectively. The reconstructed volumes of the two phantoms, a chicken leg in vitro, and human fingers in vivo were also reported. The preliminary results obtained in this study demonstrated that this new scanning approach should have potential for the 3-D US imaging of musculoskeletal extremities using freehand scanning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-583
Number of pages9
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • 3-D ultrasound
  • Limb extremity
  • Musculoskeletal tissues
  • Three-dimensional ultrasound
  • Water bag

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biophysics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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