Ultrasound research activity is mostly focused on the comprehensive evaluation of morphological and perfusion alterations in the small joints for the assessment of rheumatoid arthritis, and in the study of prenatal data for the extraction of quantitative biomarkers of functional alteration.
Small joint morphology
The progression of rheumatic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis …) are linked to morphological modifications of the synovial spaces, which happens earlier in the small joints. The evaluation of the increase of the synovial dimension (and eventually the presence of pannus) from US images is one of the quantitative markers of disease activity and progression.
Given the high dependency of ultrasound acquisition and evaluation on the operators, the aim of the research is to provide a robust and accurate method for the automatic assessment of synovial dimension from US images.
Small joint perfusion
Differential diagnosis of different rheumatic disease is a crucial step for the correct therapeutic planning and the management of the patient. In particular, perfusion is linked to synovial neovascularization correlates with the activity and aggressiveness of the rheumatoid pannus, which invades and destroys cartilage and bones.
However, joint distribution of the disease, clinical manifestations and radiological appearance may be identical, especially early at the beginning of disease, even if distinct vascularization patterns have been identified in biopsy specimens.
The aim of the study is to gather quantitative information on local perfusion within the synovia, so to identify more effectively the different perfusion patterns characterizing the different diseases. Moreover, we aim at providing an accurate differential diagnosis of rheumatic diseases based on the perfusion patterns.
Automated detection of aortic lumen from fetal ultrasound images in the cardiac cycle
Prenatal events such as intrauterine growth restriction have been shown to be associated with an increased thickness of abdominal aorta in the fetus. The measurement of abdominal aortic intima-media thickness (aIMT) is recently considered as a sensitive marker of atherosclerosis risk. Our aim is to introduce an automatic algorithm that identifies abdominal aorta and estimates its diameter and aIMT from B-mode cineloop videos recorded during routine ultrasonographic fetal biometry. The development of automatic methods for the measurement of the lumen and thickness of the aorta throughout the recorded video, may also allow to evaluate typical markers of vessel-wall functionality as strain and stiffness.