SUPRA: open-source software-defined ultrasound processing for real-time applications

A 2D and 3D pipeline from beamforming to B-mode
  • Rüdiger Göbl
  • Nassir Navab
  • Christoph Hennersperger
Original Article



Research in ultrasound imaging is limited in reproducibility by two factors: First, many existing ultrasound pipelines are protected by intellectual property, rendering exchange of code difficult. Second, most pipelines are implemented in special hardware, resulting in limited flexibility of implemented processing steps on such platforms.


With SUPRA, we propose an open-source pipeline for fully software-defined ultrasound processing for real-time applications to alleviate these problems. Covering all steps from beamforming to output of B-mode images, SUPRA can help improve the reproducibility of results and make modifications to the image acquisition mode accessible to the research community. We evaluate the pipeline qualitatively, quantitatively, and regarding its run time.


The pipeline shows image quality comparable to a clinical system and backed by point spread function measurements a comparable resolution. Including all processing stages of a usual ultrasound pipeline, the run-time analysis shows that it can be executed in 2D and 3D on consumer GPUs in real time.


Our software ultrasound pipeline opens up the research in image acquisition. Given access to ultrasound data from early stages (raw channel data, radiofrequency data), it simplifies the development in imaging. Furthermore, it tackles the reproducibility of research results, as code can be shared easily and even be executed without dedicated ultrasound hardware.


Ultrasound imaging Open source GPU programming 2D 3D 



We would like to thank Oliver Zettinig, ImFusion GmbH, Munich, Germany, for his support during data acquisition.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. No animal experiments were performed in this study.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© CARS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Aided Medical ProceduresTechnische Universität MünchenGarchingGermany
  2. 2.Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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