Recent Advancements in Ultrasound Transducer: From Material Strategies to Biomedical Applications

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Journal profile

The open access journal BME Frontiers (BMEF), published in association with SIBET CAS, is a platform for the multidisciplinary community of biomedical engineering, publishing wide-ranging research in the field.

Editorial board

BMEF's editorial board is led by Xingde Li (Johns Hopkins University), Yuguo Tang (Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology), and Guoqi Zhang (Delft University of Technology) and is comprised of leading experts in the field of biomedical engineering.

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Research Article

A Deep Learning Approach for Detecting Colorectal Cancer via Raman Spectra

Objective and Impact Statement. Distinguishing tumors from normal tissues is vital in the intraoperative diagnosis and pathological examination. In this work, we propose to utilize Raman spectroscopy as a novel modality in surgery to detect colorectal cancer tissues. Introduction. Raman spectra can reflect the substance components of the target tissues. However, the feature peak is slight and hard to detect due to environmental noise. Collecting a high-quality Raman spectroscopy dataset and developing effective deep learning detection methods are possibly viable approaches. Methods. First, we collect a large Raman spectroscopy dataset from 26 colorectal cancer patients with the Raman shift ranging from 385 to 1545 cm. Second, a one-dimensional residual convolutional neural network (1D-ResNet) architecture is designed to classify the tumor tissues of colorectal cancer. Third, we visualize and interpret the fingerprint peaks found by our deep learning model. Results. Experimental results show that our deep learning method achieves 98.5% accuracy in the detection of colorectal cancer and outperforms traditional methods. Conclusion. Overall, Raman spectra are a novel modality for clinical detection of colorectal cancer. Our proposed ensemble 1D-ResNet could effectively classify the Raman spectra obtained from colorectal tumor tissues or normal tissues.

Research Article

Automatic Detection of Atrial Fibrillation from Single-Lead ECG Using Deep Learning of the Cardiac Cycle

Objective and Impact Statement. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a serious medical condition that requires effective and timely treatment to prevent stroke. We explore deep neural networks (DNNs) for learning cardiac cycles and reliably detecting AF from single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. Introduction. Electrocardiograms are widely used for diagnosis of various cardiac dysfunctions including AF. The huge amount of collected ECGs and recent algorithmic advances to process time-series data with DNNs substantially improve the accuracy of the AF diagnosis. DNNs, however, are often designed as general purpose black-box models and lack interpretability of their decisions. Methods. We design a three-step pipeline for AF detection from ECGs. First, a recording is split into a sequence of individual heartbeats based on R-peak detection. Individual heartbeats are then encoded using a DNN that extracts interpretable features of a heartbeat by disentangling the duration of a heartbeat from its shape. Second, the sequence of heartbeat codes is passed to a DNN to combine a signal-level representation capturing heart rhythm. Third, the signal representations are passed to a DNN for detecting AF. Results. Our approach demonstrates a superior performance to existing ECG analysis methods on AF detection. Additionally, the method provides interpretations of the features extracted from heartbeats by DNNs and enables cardiologists to study ECGs in terms of the shapes of individual heartbeats and rhythm of the whole signals. Conclusion. By considering ECGs on two levels and employing DNNs for modelling of cardiac cycles, this work presents a method for reliable detection of AF from single-lead ECGs.

Review Article

A Review of Imaging Methods to Assess Ultrasound-Mediated Ablation

Ultrasound ablation techniques are minimally invasive alternatives to surgical resection and have rapidly increased in use. The response of tissue to HIFU ablation differs based on the relative contributions of thermal and mechanical effects, which can be varied to achieve optimal ablation parameters for a given tissue type and location. In tumor ablation, similar to surgical resection, it is desirable to include a safety margin of ablated tissue around the entirety of the tumor. A factor in optimizing ablative techniques is minimizing the recurrence rate, which can be due to incomplete ablation of the target tissue. Further, combining focal ablation with immunotherapy is likely to be key for effective treatment of metastatic cancer, and therefore characterizing the impact of ablation on the tumor microenvironment will be important. Thus, visualization and quantification of the extent of ablation is an integral component of ablative procedures. The aim of this review article is to describe the radiological findings after ultrasound ablation across multiple imaging modalities. This review presents readers with a general overview of the current and emerging imaging methods to assess the efficacy of ultrasound ablative treatments.

Research Article

Blood-Brain Barrier Opening by Individualized Closed-Loop Feedback Control of Focused Ultrasound

Objective and Impact Statement. To develop an approach for individualized closed-loop feedback control of microbubble cavitation to achieve safe and effective focused ultrasound in combination with microbubble-induced blood-brain barrier opening (FUS-BBBO). Introduction. FUS-BBBO is a promising strategy for noninvasive and localized brain drug delivery with a growing number of clinical studies currently ongoing. Real-time cavitation monitoring and feedback control are critical to achieving safe and effective FUS-BBBO. However, feedback control algorithms used in the past were either open-loop or without consideration of baseline cavitation level difference among subjects. Methods. This study performed feedback-controlled FUS-BBBO by defining the target cavitation level based on the baseline stable cavitation level of an individual subject with “dummy” FUS sonication. The dummy FUS sonication applied FUS with a low acoustic pressure for a short duration in the presence of microbubbles to define the baseline stable cavitation level that took into consideration of individual differences in the detected cavitation emissions. FUS-BBBO was then achieved through two sonication phases: ramping-up phase to reach the target cavitation level and maintaining phase to control the stable cavitation level at the target cavitation level. Results. Evaluations performed in wild-type mice demonstrated that this approach achieved effective and safe trans-BBB delivery of a model drug. The drug delivery efficiency increased as the target cavitation level increased from 0.5 dB to 2 dB without causing vascular damage. Increasing the target cavitation level to 3 dB and 4 dB increased the probability of tissue damage. Conclusions. Safe and effective brain drug delivery was achieved using the individualized closed-loop feedback-controlled FUS-BBBO.

Research Article

Deep Segmentation Feature-Based Radiomics Improves Recurrence Prediction of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Objective and Impact Statement. This study developed and validated a deep semantic segmentation feature-based radiomics (DSFR) model based on preoperative contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) combined with clinical information to predict early recurrence (ER) of single hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after curative resection. ER prediction is of great significance to the therapeutic decision-making and surveillance strategy of HCC. Introduction. ER prediction is important for HCC. However, it cannot currently be adequately determined. Methods. Totally, 208 patients with single HCC after curative resection were retrospectively recruited into a model-development cohort () and an independent validation cohort (). DSFR models based on different CT phases were developed. The optimal DSFR model was incorporated with clinical information to establish a DSFR-C model. An integrated nomogram based on the Cox regression was established. The DSFR signature was used to stratify high- and low-risk ER groups. Results. A portal phase-based DSFR model was selected as the optimal model (area under receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC): development cohort, 0.740; validation cohort, 0.717). The DSFR-C model achieved AUCs of 0.782 and 0.744 in the development and validation cohorts, respectively. In the development and validation cohorts, the integrated nomogram achieved C-index of 0.748 and 0.741 and time-dependent AUCs of 0.823 and 0.822, respectively, for recurrence-free survival (RFS) prediction. The RFS difference between the risk groups was statistically significant ( and in the development and validation cohorts, respectively). Conclusion. CECT-based DSFR can predict ER in single HCC after curative resection, and its combination with clinical information further improved the performance for ER prediction.

Research Article

Breast Cancer Induced Bone Osteolysis Prediction Using Temporal Variational Autoencoders

Objective and Impact Statement. We adopt a deep learning model for bone osteolysis prediction on computed tomography (CT) images of murine breast cancer bone metastases. Given the bone CT scans at previous time steps, the model incorporates the bone-cancer interactions learned from the sequential images and generates future CT images. Its ability of predicting the development of bone lesions in cancer-invading bones can assist in assessing the risk of impending fractures and choosing proper treatments in breast cancer bone metastasis. Introduction. Breast cancer often metastasizes to bone, causes osteolytic lesions, and results in skeletal-related events (SREs) including severe pain and even fatal fractures. Although current imaging techniques can detect macroscopic bone lesions, predicting the occurrence and progression of bone lesions remains a challenge. Methods. We adopt a temporal variational autoencoder (T-VAE) model that utilizes a combination of variational autoencoders and long short-term memory networks to predict bone lesion emergence on our micro-CT dataset containing sequential images of murine tibiae. Given the CT scans of murine tibiae at early weeks, our model can learn the distribution of their future states from data. Results. We test our model against other deep learning-based prediction models on the bone lesion progression prediction task. Our model produces much more accurate predictions than existing models under various evaluation metrics. Conclusion. We develop a deep learning framework that can accurately predict and visualize the progression of osteolytic bone lesions. It will assist in planning and evaluating treatment strategies to prevent SREs in breast cancer patients.