Agent with Warm Start and Active Termination for Plane Localization in 3D Ultrasound

Standard plane localization is crucial for ultrasound (US) diagnosis. In prenatal US, dozens of standard planes are manually acquired with a 2D probe... It is time-consuming and operator-dependent. In comparison, 3D US containing multiple standard planes in one shot has the inherent advantages of less user-dependency and more efficiency. However, manual plane localization in US volume is challenging due to the huge search space and large fetal posture variation. In this study, we propose a novel reinforcement learning (RL) framework to automatically localize fetal brain standard planes in 3D US. Our contribution is two-fold. First, we equip the RL framework with a landmark-aware alignment module to provide warm start and strong spatial bounds for the agent actions, thus ensuring its effectiveness. Second, instead of passively and empirically terminating the agent inference, we propose a recurrent neural network based strategy for active termination of the agent's interaction procedure. This improves both the accuracy and efficiency of the localization system. Extensively validated on our in-house large dataset, our approach achieves the accuracy of 3.4mm/9.6{\deg} and 2.7mm/9.1{\deg} for the transcerebellar and transthalamic plane localization, respectively. Ourproposed RL framework is general and has the potential to improve the efficiency and standardization of US scanning. read more

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