Sono-angiography for dialysis vascular access based on the freehand 2D ultrasound scanning

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Michigan Tech Research Institute


Introduction: Dialysis vascular access, preferably an autogenous arteriovenous fistula, remains an end stage renal disease (ESRD) patient’s lifeline providing a means of connecting the patient to the dialysis machine. Once an access is created, the current gold standard of care for maintenance of vascular access is angiography and angioplasty to treat stenosis. While point of care 2D ultrasound has been used to detect access problems, we sought to reproduce angiographic results comparable to the gold standard angiogram (fistulogram) using ultrasound data acquired from a conventional 2D ultrasound scanner. Methods: A 2D ultrasound probe was used to acquire a series of cross sectional images of the vascular access including arteriovenous anastomosis of a subject with a radio-cephalic fistula. These 2D B-mode images were used for 3D vessel reconstruction by binary thresholding to categorize vascular versus non-vascular structures followed by standard image segmentation to select the structure representative of dialysis vascular access and morphologic filtering. Image processing was done using open source Python Software. Results: The open source software was able to: (1) view the gold standard fistulogram images, (2) reconstruct 2D planar images of the fistula from ultrasound data as viewed from the top, analogous to computerized tomography images, and (3) construct a 2D representation of vascular access similar to the angiogram. Conclusion: We present a simple approach to obtain an angiogram-like representation of the vascular access from readily available, non-proprietary 2D ultrasound data in the point of care setting. While the sono-angiogram is not intended to replace angiography, it may be useful in providing 3D imaging at the point of care in the dialysis unit, outpatient clinic, or for pre-operative planning for interventional procedures. Future work will focus on improving the robustness and quality of the imaging data while preserving the straightforward freehand approach used for ultrasound data acquisition.

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Journal of Vascular Access