Real time 3D visualization of ultrasonic data using a standard pc

Svetoslav Nikolov, J. P. G. Gonzaléz, Jørgen Arendt Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper describes a flexible, software-based scan converter capable of rendering 3D volumetric data in real time on a standard PC. The display system is used in the remotely accessible and software-configurable multichannel ultrasound sampling system (RASMUS system) developed at the Center for Fast Ultrasound Imaging. The display system is split into two modules: data transfer and display. These two modules are independent and communicate using shared memory and a predefined set of functions. It is, thus, possible to use the display program with a different data-transfer module which is tailored to another source of data (scanner, database, etc.).The data-transfer module of the RASMUS system is based on a digital signal processor from Analog Devices-ADSP 21060. The beamformer is connected to a PC via the link channels of the ADSP. A direct memory access channel transfers the data from the ADSP to a memory buffer. The display module, which is based on OpenGL, uses this memory buffer as a texture map that is passed to the graphics board. The scan conversion, image interpolation, and logarithmic compression are performed by the graphics board, thus reducing the load on the main processor to a minimum. The scan conversion is done by mapping the ultrasonic data to polygons. The format of the image is determined only by the coordinates of the polygons allowing for any kind of geometry to be displayed on the screen. Data from color flow mapping is added by alpha-blending. The 3D data are displayed either as cross-sectional planes, or as a fully rendered 3D volume displayed as a pyramid. All sides of the pyramid can be changed to reveal B-mode or C-mode scans, and the pyramid can be rotated in all directions in real time.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)421-426
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • ultrasound
  • 3D
  • Scan conversion


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