Ultrasound Intraoral Imaging

Clinical Use

Clinical research summary and references [- November 2017] (Compiled by J Cleland & J Isles, Strathclyde University, UK) (pdf)

Ultrax Project

An investigation of the efficacy of ultrasound as a feedback tool for diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders  funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council 2011-2014. Work is being carried out by Articulate Instruments Ltd in co-operation with CSTR, University of Edinburgh and CASL, Queen Margaret University. The project has a further aim of enhancing the ultrasound image of the tongue in order to provide clearer feedback and assessment.

British Columbia

Ultrasound has been used by speech language pathologists in school districts in British Columbia for about 10 years as a visual feedback tool for assessment and therapy. An introduction to how ultrasound is used in BC can be found on the UBC school of audiology and speech sciences website

UltraPhonix

UltraPhonix project 2015-2016 aims to evaluate the effectiveness of Ultrasound Visual Biofeedback (U-VBF) therapy in treating Speech Sound Disorders (SSDs) which have been unresponsive to traditional speech therapy methods. The project is run jointly by Queen Margaret University and Strathclyde University.

Ultrasound Biofeedback for Therapy-Resistant Speech Sound Disorders in Children

The project at Syracuse University 2013-2016  will refine ultrasound biofeedback based intervention procedures, determine if different profiles of children with speech sound disorders respond to the intervention, and compare the outcomes of this approach to outcomes achieved with traditional speech therapy.

Multicenter NIH Speech Remediation Project

NIDCD multisite (CUNY, University of Cincinnati, Haskins, New York University and University of Syracuse) translational grant 2014-2019 focuses on direct applications in the clinic—the use of ultrasound for assessment and visual biofeedback for children who misarticulate /r/.

University of Sydney

Planning to investigate and develop treatments for developmental speech disorders, apraxia, cleft palate, head and neck cancer, hearing impairment, swallowing and dysarthria using ultrasound biofeedback.

University of Strathclyde

Project 01 Jan 2017-31 Mar 2018; Visualising Speech: Using Ultrasound Visual Biofeedback to Diagnose and Treat Speech Disorders in Children with Cleft Lip and Palate

Phonetics

Using ultrasound for Speech research

With ultrasound, it is easy to get a moving image representing the tongue but it is important to understand the way ultrasound works in order to get the best and most accurate image. Ultrasound tutorial (draft in progess)

Seeing Speech teaching resource

The Seeing Speech phonetics teaching web resource is now available

This resource provides teachers and students of Practical Phonetics with synchronised ultrasound video, audio and 2D/3D diagrams of modelled speech and spontaneous speech (drawn from collected Ultrasound Tongue Images and MRI corpora).

Dynamic Dialects Project

Dynamic Dialects is the product of a collaboration between researchers at the University of Glasgow, Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, University College London and Napier University, Edinburgh. Dynamic Dialects is an accent database, containing an articulatory video-based corpus of speech samples from world-wide accents of English. Videos in this corpus contain synchronised audio, ultrasound-tongue-imaging video and video of the moving lips. We are continuing to augment this resource.

Echo B

The EchoB is a compact yet accurate black and white system well suited to speech research.

Key Features:

  • Portable: 62 x 210 x 165mm ; 1.6kg
  • Hardware sync signal: TTL pulse on completion of every frame allowing fully automated, accurate audio sync.
  • Speech capture software: Integrated with AAA capture/analysis software
  • Raw scan data capture: Saves disk space and allows more accurate analysis. No torn images.
  • Microconvex probe 5-8MHz probe recommended for imaging children and small to medium sized adults
  • High frame rate: Frame rate up to 120Hz (more typically 87Hz for 70mm depth; 70% FOV)
  • Low Cost
  • No fan noise There is no cooling fan so microphone can be near machine.
  • Low frequency probe option 2-4MHz convex probe for better penetration when imaging larger adults
  • Good image quality 128 echo beams per full scan mean Image detail ccompares well with top end systems.

EchoB 2 probes

 

PV6.5-3Radius 10mm; Frequency 5-8MHz; FOV 156°

C2_4Probe    Radius 20mm; Frequency 2-4MHz; FOV 104°

Contact us for details on pricing and performance

Micro/SonoSpeech

Overview

This is the latest ultrasound technology superceding the EchoB and can be used for research or as a visual biofeedback tool. Both configuratrations are based on the same pocket sized hardware. The Micro system has an additional frame synchronisation output which, when used in conjunction with the AAA software and an audio bundle, automatically and precisely aligns the ultrasound frames with the audio. Sonospeech is a simplified version of the Micro  designed specifically for clinical intervention. Cost and cabling is minimised and the SonoSpeech software provides an uncluttered intuitive interface for visual biofeedback.

Both systems can operate at image frame rates of up to 140 fps although more typically are used in the range 80-120Hz. Like the EchoB system, the data is stored in a raw envelope detected beam format. This saves space and allows a range of image processing to be done after or during recording to enhance the display without altering the data upon which that image is based. This offers Articulate instruments ( and anyone else who wishes) the opportunity to develop image enhancement in the future which can be applied retrospectively to historic recordings.

Micro

Micro research bundle

Micro research bundle (Brochure pdf)

SonoSpeech

Sonospeech bundle

Sonospeech bundle (brochure pdf)

SonoSpeech ExemplarSonoSpeech Record with text SonoSpeech Review with text SonoSpeech Overlay with text

Other Systems

This line of ultrasound systems is no longer available. Please see EchoB for a cost effective alternative.

We offer complete systems for recording and analysing ultrasound image sequences based on the cost effective scanners built by Mindray. These scanners are portable and provide an NTSC video output which can be de-interlaced to provide ~60 frames per second. Although some frames may have discontinuities, these models provide the clearest image sequences we have found for video-based ultrasound. See Ultrasonix for superior but significantly more expensive cineloop data transfer.

DP2200

DP2200 (Budget)

DP6600 2

DP6600 (Superior)

Mindray probes

Suitable transducers for speech work

     NOTE: The DP range of ultrasound systems (DP2200,DP6600, DP6900) no longer available. These CRT systems were replaced in 2013 with flatscreen versions but at the same time the internal video processing was altered such that there is hard-wired frame averaging. While frame averaging smooths out speckle in static images, it creates double images in image frames where there is image movement. These systems are therefore not ideal for examining the dynamics of tongue movement and as a consequence we will not be promoting these new systems for speech research.
Budget Mindray DP2200 system for speech research
Standard Mindray DP6600 system for speech research
Comparison of three transducers suitable for speech research.
Ultrasonix is a manufacturer of research ultrasound systems.  Their old RP system provided the possibility of recording several minutes of high frame rate (>120fps) image sequences and synchronising them very precisely using a  frame synchronisation signal provided by the ultrasound machine. Newer systems include the Sonix Touch and the Sonix Tablet. Newer software released with these models currently only allows a few seconds of image data to be recorded via the cineloop because space intensive RF data is stored rather than envelope data; converting and transferring that data from the cineloop to a remote PC takes an exceptionally long time. If the software (Exam.exe) on these newer systems is retrograded to an older version (version 5.7) then it is still possible to record 50+ seconds of cineloop data which can be copied from the cineloop in less than real time and the system will record at 120Hz or higher without dropping frames. If the system is shipped with the latest version of Exam.exe then the ultrasonix systems can be programmed to acquire data in real-time but they will start dropping frames above 90Hz. In theory, since each frame is tagged, synchronisation beteen audio and ultrasound data stream can be maintained but there will be missing data. Since the EchoB system can record data at 89+ frames per second and has a number of advantages ( no fan noise, low frequency probe option) and 1/5th of the cost, Ultrasonix machines running the latest version of their software are not currently recommended.

http://www.ultrasonix.com/research/clinical/linguistic Sonix Tablet

Interson Seemore are a range of USB probes. These probes are best suited for speech therapy visual biofeedback rather than phonetic research as the frame rate is very low at 12-15fps. Of the range, the GP3.5 or GP5.5 provide the best tongue image.

Choosing a system

There are many manufacturers of diagnostic ultrasound machines and each manufacturer has several models. New models are being brought out all the time so it is worth looking around. The three key elements you need from your system are: basic black and white B-mode scanning; a means to get good clean image sequence from the system and synchronise it with audio; suitable transducers.

All you need is B&W  B-mode

You will find a Black&White B-mode option on all ultrasound machines. More expensive models will provide colour doppler and 4D imaging, neither of which have been found to be useful for speech research.

Image quality

More expensive machines do not necessarily provide better image quality. Ultrasound reps are often not familiar with the requirements for clear distinct dynamic images. The only way to be sure is to record the image stream before you buy and examine the clarity of each image. In particular you should be aware that you need to switch off any settings that despeckle by averaging frames as this causes blurring of images where the tongue is moving. Be aware also of despeckling/smoothing  that operates by sening several pulses per scanline as this will reduce the internal frame rate of the ultrasound system. In general you want to achieve internal frame rates of 60Hz and above to avoid discontinuities in individual images or duplicate frames in the image sequence.

Accessories

Ultrasound probe can be handheld under the chin but for more stable imaging a headset or other stabilisation method can be used.

headset3 headset2 headset4 The Probe Stabilisation Headset is designed for ultrasound tongue imaging research. It is fully adjustable and has been used with adults and children as young as six years. The outer shell is 3mm aluminium, while the inner is made from polycarbonate with gel and neoprene pads. The headset maintains the probe in the midsagittal plane and restricts rotational and translational movement within the midsagittal plane. The amount of probe movement relative to the head is determined by a number of factors including how firmly the headset is fitted and how much force is applied to the transducer by jaw opening during speech and swallowing. Weight: 0.8kg (excluding probe weight)

R&D

Real-time contour tracking and vocal tract estimation

New real time live tongue tracking – work in progress. [Will also be available to users of EchoB and an offline version for users of Ultrasonix]. The following is an example of the tracker on pre- and post therapy speech. The tracker is fully automatic speaker independent requiring no seeding or training. Although it mistracks occasionally it recovers automatically. We are working to eliminate the mistracking and add further features.

Pre-therapy client* presenting with palatalised lateralised /r/. Video shows A) plain ultrasound image (1/2 speed) B) plain ultrasound with live edge tracking (1/2 speed)  C) Edge tracking carving out vocal tract (1/4 speed) D) Edge tracking within vocal tract.

 

Post-therapy .

This 02SSD Crab pdf shows difference between pre- and post- /r/ in the word “crab”, highlighting the significance not only of shape but also context of the location of the constrictions formed withing the vocal tract.

[* Client recorded as part of the Ultrax Project funded by EPSRC EP/I027696/1 ]

 

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