A London-based research project has produced the most detailed ultrasound image yet of a 20-week-old fetus, The Telegraph reports. iFind (intelligent fetal imaging and diagnosis), an initiative led by researchers at King’s College London, is working on computer-guided ultrasound technology so that scans can be automated and uniform as well as more accurate.
Typically, a 20-week ultrasound (also called a mid-pregnancy scan) helps detect fetal abnormalities like spina bifida, but current scans can’t catch everything. One researcher The Telegraph spoke to estimated that only about half of all congenital abnormalities show up on the 20-week scan.
One issue with current ultrasound systems is that technicians can only use one probe for imaging because they need their other hand to work the settings on the machine. The iFind researchers want to create a robotic system that can take ultrasounds with multiple probes. By collecting a large dataset of high-quality 3D ultrasound images, the algorithm will learn to recognize organs and detect normal versus abnormal development.
The high-definition video recently captured by iFind is clearer than typical ultrasounds because the new algorithm can correct for the fetus’s normal movement during the scan, creating a more focused image (similar to steadying your camera in low-light conditions). The result is an unprecedented look at a fetus in the womb that could give parents and doctors a much better idea of the baby’s condition.
[h/t The Telegraph]