The latest in ultrasound: Three-dimensional imaging. Part II

Rodolfo Campani, Olivia Bottinelli, Fabrizio Calliada, Davide Coscia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of ultrasound images has become a widespread option in ultrasound equipment. Specific softwares have become available and 3D reconstruction feasible since the early 1990s, particularly since 1994. Possible clinical applications: Several clinical applications are feasible in all parenchymatous organs (mainly the liver and prostate), hollow viscera (e.g. the bladder and gallbladder), peripheral vessels (supra-aortic trunks and limb vessels) and central (the aorta and iliac arteries) or cerebral vessels. Moreover, tumoral vessels in parenchymatous organs can be reconstructed, and even the fetus in the uterine cavity, with excellent detailing. The recent introduction of echocontrast agents and second harmonic imaging has permitted to study normal and abnormal peripheral, central and parenchymatous vessels, with similar patterns to those obtained with digital angiography. The spatial relationships between the vascular structures of the liver, kidney and placenta were studied with 3D ultrasound angiograms. The applications of this new technique include the analysis of vascular anatomy and the potential assessment of organ perfusion. The latest applications-intravascular studies: Some catheters with an ultrasound transducer in the tip have been tested for intravascular studies. Just like conventional transducers, they provide two-dimensional (2D) images which are then postprocessed into longitudinal 3D or volume reconstructions. The former resemble angiographic images and can be viewed 3D rotating the image along its longitudinal axis. Volume images, which are more complex and slower to obtain, can be rotated on any spatial plane and provide rich detailing of the internal vascular lumen. The clinical importance of intravascular ultrasound with 3D volume reconstructions lies in the diagnosis of vascular conditions and the assessment and monitoring of intravascular interventional procedures-e.g. to detect inaccurate deployment of intravascular stents and endoluminal grafts during the maneuver. Three- dimensional reconstructions involve geometric data rassembly and volumetric interpolation of a spatially related sequence of tomographic cross sections generated by an ultrasound catheter withdrawn at a constant rate through a vascular segment of interest, resulting in the display of a straight segment. Therefore particular care is needed and there are some useful hints to avoid mistakes. Conclusions: Three dimensional reconstructions of B-mode and color Doppler images are no longer a work in progress and their clinical importance and possible applications are both established and ever-increasing. On the other hand, independent of the different types of energy used, also computed tomography and magnetic resonance 3D reconstructions are very useful from a clinical viewpoint and they have become an established routine technique for both these methods. It is very likely that 3D volume reconstructions in ultrasound will find numerous applications in the near future. They may help to increase the diagnostic confidence and to facilitate diagnosis, intraprocedure monitoring in interventional radiology and follow-up and also to reduce the number of invasive examinations with iodinated contrast agents. This could result in cutting the cost and duration of the most expensive examinations. New, although invasive, application can be hypothesized for intravascular or intraluminal catheters with an ultrasound transducer inside.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • Catheter
  • Color Doppler images
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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