Robotically Assisted Ultrasound in Brain Health Evaluation

John Kim UCLA
John Kim UCLA

Since ultrasounds were first used in the early 1940s, the technology has had an immeasurable impact on medical care.

Ultrasounds have quickly moved from offering tiny, grey, low-resolution images to 3D images that are essential for studying everything from how blood is being supplied to organs to examining soft tissue images X-rays cannot provide.

They offer numerous details about the condition of a fetus, a lump in a breast, or the profession of metabolic bone disease. A 4D-image-producing ultrasound is already helping to refine diagnoses and therapeutic approaches.

John Myungjune Kim UCLA explains that advancements in ultrasound technology continue to be made every year. One of the most promising technological leaps forward is the rise of robotically assisted ultrasounds in evaluating brain health.


Multiple studies have noted the potential clinical power and wide range of applications for robotic arm-assisted ultrasounds, especially when medical resources are low and medical jobs remain unfilled.

In general, robotic ultrasounds combine an ultrasound station with a form of a robotic system. An ultrasound probe is commonly attached in some way to a part of a robot. Different medical tools and needs are supported by a wide range of levels of robot autonomy (LORA) within ultrasound use. One of the biggest benefits includes the potential for teleoperated systems when ultrasound technology is paired with robotic assistance but performed remotely.

While the type of robotic tool varies, all offer potential value in maintaining brain health. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke, and every 4 minutes, someone dies from one. Neurological diseases or conditions, including Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury and migraines cost the healthcare system in America about $438 billion each year.

John Myungjune Kim UCLA

Features of Robotic Ultrasound Systems

NovaSignal Corporation has arguably made the most impact with its robotically-assisted ultrasound tool to measure the brain’s blood flow.

In 2018, the company, then known as Neural Analytics, received FDA clearance for its NeuralBot system, a technology that makes it easy for healthcare professionals to automatically adjust the positions and orientations of its ultrasounds. The company also manufactures the Lucid system, which helps clinicians monitor both blood flow characteristics and diagnose neurological conditions.

In order to get a complete understanding of brain blood flow, NovaSignal’s and other similar devices typically combine ultrasound and robot technology with cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

That allows for real-time imagery that can pinpoint air bubbles, clots, and the velocity of blood flow just by a patient placing their head into a machine that resembles common headphones.

There are also different forms of technology to assist with ultrasounds. A human operator is not needed for fully autonomous robotic ultrasound help, and in addition to remotely guided forms of ultrasound, a third option allows for both robotic help and a clinician fully present during procedures.

The Bottom Line

While the features of robotically assisted ultrasounds are still evolving, medical professionals are keen on such technology and view it as a partner in crafting noninvasive, more effective, personalized medical treatment or aiding emergency medicine.

And as machine learning and artificial intelligence applications grow and evolve, robotically assisted ultrasound technology is almost certain to grow as well.

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