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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2013;2013:4855-8. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2013.6610635.

Human abdomen recognition using camera and force sensor in medical robot system for automatic ultrasound scan.


Physicians use ultrasound scans to obtain real-time images of internal organs, because such scans are safe and inexpensive. However, people in remote areas face difficulties to be scanned due to aging society and physician's shortage. Hence, it is important to develop an autonomous robotic system to perform remote ultrasound scans. Previously, we developed a robotic system for automatic ultrasound scan focusing on human's liver. In order to make it a completely autonomous system, we present in this paper a way to autonomously localize the epigastric region as the starting position for the automatic ultrasound scan. An image processing algorithm marks the umbilicus and mammary papillae on a digital photograph of the patient's abdomen. Then, we made estimation for the location of the epigastric region using the distances between these landmarks. A supporting algorithm distinguishes rib position from epigastrium using the relationship between force and displacement. We implemented these algorithms with the automatic scanning system into an apparatus: a Mitsubishi Electric's MELFA RV-1 six axis manipulator. Tests on 14 healthy male subjects showed the apparatus located the epigastric region with a success rate of 94%. The results suggest that image recognition was effective in localizing a human body part.

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