Time-aware deep neural networks for needle tip localization in 2D ultrasound

Cosmas Mwikirize, Alvin B. Kimbowa, Sylvia Imanirakiza, Andrew Katumba, John L. Nosher, Ilker Hacihaliloglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Accurate placement of the needle is critical in interventions like biopsies and regional anesthesia, during which incorrect needle insertion can lead to procedure failure and complications. Therefore, ultrasound guidance is widely used to improve needle placement accuracy. However, at steep and deep insertions, the visibility of the needle is lost. Computational methods for automatic needle tip localization could improve the clinical success rate in these scenarios. Methods: We propose a novel algorithm for needle tip localization during challenging ultrasound-guided insertions when the shaft may be invisible, and the tip has a low intensity. There are two key steps in our approach. First, we enhance the needle tip features in consecutive ultrasound frames using a detection scheme which recognizes subtle intensity variations caused by needle tip movement. We then employ a hybrid deep neural network comprising a convolutional neural network and long short-term memory recurrent units. The input to the network is a consecutive plurality of fused enhanced frames and the corresponding original B-mode frames, and this spatiotemporal information is used to predict the needle tip location. Results: We evaluate our approach on an ex vivo dataset collected with in-plane and out-of-plane insertion of 17G and 22G needles in bovine, porcine, and chicken tissue, acquired using two different ultrasound systems. We train the model with 5000 frames from 42 video sequences. Evaluation on 600 frames from 30 sequences yields a tip localization error of 0.52 ± 0.06 mm and an overall inference time of 0.064 s (15 fps). Comparison against prior art on challenging datasets reveals a 30% improvement in tip localization accuracy. Conclusion: The proposed method automatically models temporal dynamics associated with needle tip motion and is more accurate than state-of-the-art methods. Therefore, it has the potential for improving needle tip localization in challenging ultrasound-guided interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)819-827
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


  • LSTM
  • Minimally invasive procedures
  • Needle tip localization
  • Ultrasound


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