Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Handheld 3D Ultrasound Machine For Scoliosis

Researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a handheld 3D ultrasound machine for use in diagnosing scoliosis. Scoliosis is a prevalent spinal disease that affects adolescents and early detection and treatment is crucial to prevent spinal deterioration. The new device, named Scolioscan Air, weighs under twelve pounds making it an affordable, safe, and convenient way to make scoliosis screenings more accessible to schools and communities.  

Palm-sized 3D Ultrasound Imaging System for Scoliosis Mass Screening and Frequent Monitoring
Palm-sized 3D Ultrasound Imaging System for Scoliosis Mass Screening and Frequent Monitoring Credit: Hong Kong Polytechnic University


 “With this innovation, we can now literally bring the device and mass screening service to the youngsters anywhere, anytime. It would facilitate the implementation of school-based scoliosis screening to detect and treat spinal curvatures before they become severe enough to cause chronic pain or other health issues among adolescents,” says Professor Zheng Yong-Ping head of the department of biomedical engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “Moreover, when providing non-surgical treatment for scoliosis patients, healthcare personnel can use Scolioscan Air to conduct real-time assessment, so as to optimize the treatment outcome.”


From the Hong Kong Polytechnic University article: "Scolioscan Air consists of three hardware components: i) a palm-sized wireless ultrasound probe with an optical marker mounted at its bottom; ii) a depth camera; and iii) a laptop or tablet computer with dedicated software. The compact optical marker and depth camera replace the spatial sensor used in Scolioscan and thus help dramatically downsize the device.

In addition, the technology for 3D ultrasound image reconstruction, visualisation and measurement, including a fully automatic curvature measurement method and 3D spinal deformity analysis software, developed by the team earlier can also be applied to Scolioscan Air.

The newly developed optical 3D spatial tracking method for Scolioscan Air achieves a high degree of accuracy, which is comparable with Scolioscan. Moreover, the technological compatibility makes Scolioscan Air readily available for commercialisation for popular use. With dramatically reduced material cost, size and weight compared with other scanning systems, Scolioscan Air can be carried within a suitcase."


Read more about the handheld 3D ultrasound device for scoliosis diagnosis at Hong Kong Polytechnic University