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Guided ultrasound calibration: where, how, and how many calibration fiducials



Many image-guided interventions rely on tracked ultrasound where the transducer is augmented with a tracking device. The relationship between the ultrasound image coordinate system and the tracking sensor must be determined accurately via probe calibration. We introduce a novel calibration framework guided by the prediction of target registration error (TRE): Between successive measurements of the calibration phantom, our framework guides the user in choosing the pose of the calibration phantom by optimizing TRE.


We introduced an oriented line calibration phantom and modeled the ultrasound calibration process as a point-to-line registration problem. We then derived a spatial stiffness model of point-to-line registration for estimating TRE magnitude at any target. Assuming isotropic, identical localization error, we used the model to estimate TRE for each pixel using the current calibration estimate. We then searched through the calibration tool space to find the pose for the next fiducial which maximally minimized TRE.


Both simulation and experimental results suggested that TRE decreases monotonically, reaching an asymptote when a sufficient number of measurements (typically around 12) are made. Independent point reconstruction accuracy assessment showed sub-millimeter accuracy of the calibration framework.


We have introduced the first TRE-guided ultrasound calibration framework. Using a hollow straw as an oriented line phantom, we virtually constructed a rigid lines phantom and modeled the calibration process as a point-to-line registration. Highly accurate calibration was achieved with minimal measurements by using a spatial stiffness model of TRE to strategically choose the pose of the calibration phantom between successive measurements.

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This study was funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC Discovery Grant).

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Correspondence to Elvis C. S. Chen.

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Elvis C. S. Chen, Terry M. Peters, and Burton Ma declare that they have no conflict of interests.


This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

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Chen, E.C.S., Peters, T.M. & Ma, B. Guided ultrasound calibration: where, how, and how many calibration fiducials. Int J CARS 11, 889–898 (2016).

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  • Ultrasound
  • Calibration
  • Spatial stiffness model
  • Target registration error
  • Fiducial localization error
  • Guidance
  • Virtual rigid lines phantom