Who we are
We are a community of European scientists and engineers with decades of R&D experience in the field of ultrasound technology. Our community does not only have its own software development, it also has its own manufacturing capabilities for electronics and ultrasonic transducers.
What our objectives are
Our goals are the development of 3D medical ultrasound holography devices, the establishment of non-profit ultrasound examination centres, as well as the conduction of examinations with 3D medical ultrasound holography devices.
For this purpose, the following 3D ultrasound holographic devices are to be developed:
Ultrasound device for general examinations (abdomen, thyroid glands, etc.)
With the measuring head, we’ve planned, a volume of about 10x10x10 cm can be recorded. However, how quickly the images can be visualized is still unclear. This will probably not be possible in real time; however, this issue is still open at this moment. With a parallel recording of the channels, this ultrasonic device could be used to present real-time measurements of complex structures such as moving organs, though this will require additional effort.
Ultrasound device for the examination of the hand, arm, foot and knee joints (joint scanner), which makes an arthroscopy unnecessary.
Compared to normal ultrasonic devices for general examinations, the development and manufacturing effort is significantly greater here, since a combination of ultrasound holography and tomography is used.
Ultrasound device for examination of the female breast (breast scanner)
The production and development costs for this device are also greater than those in ultrasound devices for general examinations since a combination of ultrasound holography and tomography is also used here. However, software-assisted automation can be used once sufficient information has been gathered by the breast scanner and from the tissue samples examined in the laboratory.
Ultrasonography is now the most widely-used imaging method in medicine. Nearly every field uses this non-hazardous and cost-effective method for examinations. But it also has some disadvantages: for example, the fine detail of the generated images is low; the results are also dependent on the experience of the examiner.
Another shortcoming is the lack of reproducibility of the images. In order to eliminate these disadvantages, instead of using classic sonography which is based on the “phased array” method, the holographic sonography or 3D ultrasonic holography demonstrates new and efficient technology to perfection.
The advantages of holographic sonography in comparison to traditional sonography (Phased Array)
The holographic ultrasound has several clear advantages over classic sonography: For example, 100% of the scattered or reflected sound waves can be evaluated from the perspective of their information content (enables e.g. measurement of temperature or density).
Since there is no phase noise with holographic ultrasound and only one barrier – sound wave diffraction – holographic ultrasound achieves a significant increase in resolution. By using “very clean” sound waves (i.e. with very well-defined phases), no information is lost during the process. The conventional method, however, does lose valuable information as the waves created by the superposition of different waves are generated by several transmitters, thus being able to create a clean wave by interference only in certain points. But there are also areas where the waves do not interfere favourably from the standpoint of image formation – causing artefacts – and opposing anything real. The classic technique is also not able to provide 3D information directly.
The customary market-based sonography devices only produce cross-sectional images of a relatively thick, averaged layer, which are then assembled into a three-dimensional image. Using our 3D ultrasonic holography, it is possible to directly generate many three-dimensional images per second in real time, which can be reproduced an optional amount of times.
FIGURE 1: Shows a fingerprint generated with classic ultrasonography (phased array)
FIGURE 2: Shows a fingerprint generated with 2D ultrasound holography
FIGURE 3: The aim here was to verify the feasibility of 3D ultrasound holography (in this case, on a grape). However, the quality of the image is still far from the potentially possible resolution. In addition, it has to be considered that only one ultrasonic transducer was used here and that image shows only one layer, in the direction perpendicular to the transducer. The complete information, however, contains several such layers.
A further advantage of holographic ultrasound is the fast and efficient learning stage for staff in our easy-to-use technology. The behavior of the measuring head is simple, because the sound wave includes greater range: Unlike traditional ultrasound, where the measuring head has to be moved several times to capture different structures from all possible angles of incidence, the 3D holographic method only has to be applied in one position to gather and generate the same and more information in a shorter time frame and at higher resolution. The electronics used can generate stronger impulses which are advantageous especially when a greater range is necessary and/or desired. Furthermore, 3D ultrasonic holography enables the production of portable 3D sonography devices.
The importance of 3D ultrasound holography using the example of mammography
According to “The World Breast Cancer Report 2012”, 1.5 million diagnosed cases of breast cancer were recorded in 2011. According to WHO, 450,000 people die from this disease each year. In 2012, an estimated 226,870 women and 2,150 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States; approximately 39,510 women and 410 men died [source: webmd.com, October 2012]. The 5-year survival rate worldwide is 61%; in developed countries such as the United States 89%. If the cancer is detected at an early stage, the rate could be close to 100% according to webmd.com.
Regular breast examinations through mammography make it possible to detect breast cancer at the earliest possible stage, increasing the chances of survival of those affected. A significant shortcoming of mammography are the false positive and false negative results. The sensitivity of the examination lies between 70 and 75 percent, meaning 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers go undetected despite mammography. If the next examination takes place after two years due to fear of too much radiation exposure, these false negative results may significantly impede successful treatment.
Breast cancer specialists believe that around a quarter of breast cancer diagnoses are wrong. Thousands of overdiagnosed women will be treated using mammography screening without reason. With false positive findings, the mental aspect is especially paramount: women who receive this diagnosis are unnecessarily alarmed and have to undergo further unnecessary procedures.
Another shortcoming of mammography is from overdiagnosis: There are breast cancers that are dormant or grow so slowly that they do not affect women at all. These cases cannot be reliably distinguished from dangerous tumours in a mammography. They would, therefore, be diagnosed with breast cancer and are unnecessarily treated.
The advantages of 3D ultrasound holography based on breast examinations
Since ultrasonic holography does not work with dangerous radiation, breast examinations can be carried out more frequently. Holographic sonography also provides much more detailed resolution images, which significantly reduce the number of false positive and false negative results.
A significant advantage of 3D ultrasonic holography lies in the reproducibility of images. This allows automated or computerized data interpretation / evaluation in the field of breast sonography and even the smallest changes in the order of 0.1 mm are reliably detected. Microcalcifications can be detected as well.
Another possibility is the construction of a breast scan station. Here, the patient lies on a table and the breast hangs freely and without deformation in a container filled with water. Within seconds, the measurement process is complete and the 3D ultrasound pictures can be instantly evaluated, sent to ultrasound specialists or can be automatically compared by the software with pictures of previous examinations. For patients, the 3D ultrasonic holography is a fast, safe, inexpensive, gentle and painless breast examination without radiation exposure.
The importance of holographic sonography, using the example of breast cancer therapy
The pivotal importance of 3D ultrasound holography is particularly evident in the field of cancer therapy, since it guarantees a safe breast examination in the shortest possible time, and also enables the observation of the effects of the applied treatment. These examinations provide the necessary information to the physicians in charge to enable them make a timely and reliable decision as to whether an initiated treatment must be continued or aborted.
Why we want to establish non-profit ultrasound examination centers
Our goal is not to maximize profits, but to make it possible for everyone to carry out these important examinations. At the non-profit ultrasound examination centres, an examination and the issuing of the ultrasound image to the general practitioner or the treating physician can be carried out with an optimal organization, within a few minutes.
What else you should know
This is a development project whose duration depends primarily on the quality of the software developers we will be hiring. It is only at this moment that the incurred costs can be estimated in details.
A development towards mass production depends on the number of devices required.
Unfortunately, due to technical restrictions on Betterplace, it is currently not possible to set up a donation of more than €9,999. However, as this is a development project and the respective financial requirements cannot be specified at this time, we have created 263 “Needs” of €9,999 (totaling around €2.6 million). This total will cover the development costs for the 3D ultrasound holography devices. Any additional donations will go toward the ultrasound examination centers.
The following donation platform and payment options are available:
PayPal, Direct Debit, Credit Card (American Express, Mastercard, VISA), Paydirekt, Wire Transfer.
Recipient: 3D MED
BIC / SWIFT Code: GENODEF1SZH
Purpose for transfer: Donation