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Estimating needle tip deflection in biological tissue from a single transverse ultrasound image: application to brachytherapy

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This paper proposes a method to predict the deflection of a flexible needle inserted into soft tissue based on the observation of deflection at a single point along the needle shaft.


We model the needle-tissue as a discretized structure composed of several virtual, weightless, rigid links connected by virtual helical springs whose stiffness coefficient is found using a pattern search algorithm that only requires the force applied at the needle tip during insertion and the needle deflection measured at an arbitrary insertion depth. Needle tip deflections can then be predicted for different insertion depths.


Verification of the proposed method in synthetic and biological tissue shows a deflection estimation error of \(<\)2 mm for images acquired at 35 % or more of the maximum insertion depth, and decreases to 1 mm for images acquired closer to the final insertion depth. We also demonstrate the utility of the model for prostate brachytherapy, where in vivo needle deflection measurements obtained during early stages of insertion are used to predict the needle deflection further along the insertion process.


The method can predict needle deflection based on the observation of deflection at a single point. The ultrasound probe can be maintained at the same position during insertion of the needle, which avoids complications of tissue deformation caused by the motion of the ultrasound probe.

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Correspondence to Carlos Rossa.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

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.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. Approval for the study granted by the Alberta Cancer Research Ethics Committee under file number 25837.

Additional information

This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada under grant CHRP 446520, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) under Grant CPG 127768, and by the Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS) under Grant CRIO 201201232.

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Rossa, C., Sloboda, R., Usmani, N. et al. Estimating needle tip deflection in biological tissue from a single transverse ultrasound image: application to brachytherapy. Int J CARS 11, 1347–1359 (2016).

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