Understanding spatial relationships in US: a computer-based training tool that utilizes inexpensive off-the-shelf game controllers

Radiographics. 2014 Sep-Oct;34(5):1334-43. doi: 10.1148/rg.345130039. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


The authors present a simulation-based ultrasonographic (US) training tool that can help improve the understanding of spatial relationships in US. Use of a game controller to simulate a US probe allows examination of different virtual three-dimensional (3D) objects. These 3D objects are either completely artificial simple geometric objects (eg, spheres, tubes, and ellipsoids, or more complex combinations thereof) or derived from photographed gross anatomic data (eg, the Visible Human dataset [U.S. National Library of Medicine]) or clinical computed tomographic (CT) data. The virtual US probe allows infinitely variable real-time positioning of a "slice" that is displayed as a two-dimensional (2D) cross-sectional image and as part of a 3D view. Combining the 2D and 3D views helps elucidate the spatial relationships between a 3D object and derived 2D images. This training tool provides reliable real-time interactivity and is widely available and easily affordable, since it utilizes standard personal computer technology and off-the-shelf gaming hardware. For instance, it can be used at home by medical students or residents as a complement to conventional US training. In the future, this system could be adapted to support training for US-guided needle biopsy, with use of a second game controller to control the biopsy needle. Furthermore, it could be used as a more general interactive visualization tool for the evaluation of clinical 3D CT and magnetic resonance imaging data, allowing efficient and intuitive real-time creation of oblique multiplanar reformatted images.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Ultrasonography*