Hybrid electromagnetic and image-based tracking of endoscopes with guaranteed smooth output

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2013 Nov;8(6):955-65. doi: 10.1007/s11548-013-0835-5. Epub 2013 Mar 31.


Purpose: Flexible fiber-optic bronchoscopy is a widespread medical procedure for the diagnosis and treatment of lung diseases. Navigation systems are needed to track the flexible endoscope within the bronchial tree. Electromagnetic (EM) tracking is currently the only technology used clinically for this purpose. The registration between EM tracking and patient anatomy may become inaccurate due to breathing motion, so the addition of image-based tracking has been proposed as a hybrid EM-image-based system.

Methods: When EM tracking is used as an initialization for image registration, small changes in the initialization may lead to different local minima and noise is amplified by hybrid tracking. The tracking output is modeled as continuous and uses splines for interpolation, thus smoothness is greatly improved. The bronchoscope pose relative to computed tomography data is interpolated using Catmull-Rom splines for position and spherical linear interpolation (SLERP) for orientation.

Results: The hybrid method was evaluated using ground truth poses manually selected by experts, where mean inter-expert agreement was determined as 1.26 mm. Using four dynamic phantom data sets, the accuracy was 4.91 mm, which is equivalent to previous methods. Compared to state-of-art methods, inter-frame smoothness was improved from 2.77-3.72 to 1.24 mm.

Conclusions: Hybrid image and electromagnetic endoscope guidance provides a more realistic and physically plausible solution with significantly less jitter. This quantitative result is confirmed by visual comparison of real and virtual video, where the virtual video output is much more consistent and robust, with fewer occasions of tracking loss or unexpected movement compared with previous methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bronchoscopes*
  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results