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Journal: Biomedical engineering online


BACKGROUND: The symptom of tongue deviation is observed in a stroke or transient ischemic attack. Nevertheless, there is much room for the interpretation of the tongue deviation test. The crucial factor is the lack of an effective quantification method of tongue deviation. If we can quantify the features of the tongue deviation and scientifically verify the relationship between the deviation angle and a stroke, the information provided by the tongue will be helpful in recognizing a warning of a stroke. METHODS: In this study, a quantification method of the tongue deviation angle was proposed for the first time to characterize stroke patients. We captured the tongue images of stroke patients (15 males and 10 females, ranging between 55 and 82 years of age); transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients (16 males and 9 females, ranging between 53 and 79 years of age); and normal subjects (14 males and 11 females, ranging between 52 and 80 years of age) to analyze whether the method is effective. In addition, we used the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) for the sensitivity analysis, and determined the threshold value of the tongue deviation angle for the warning sign of a stroke. RESULTS: The means and standard deviations of the tongue deviation angles of the stroke, TIA, and normal groups were: 6.9 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 3.1, 4.9 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 2.1 and 1.4 [PLUS-MINUS SIGN] 0.8 degrees, respectively. Analyzed by the unpaired Student’s t-test, the p-value between the stroke group and the TIA group was 0.015 (>0.01), indicating no significant difference in the tongue deviation angle. The p-values between the stroke group and the normal group, as well as between the TIA group and the normal group were both less than 0.01. These results show the significant differences in the tongue deviation angle between the patient groups (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. These results also imply that the tongue deviation angle can effectively identify the patient group (stroke and TIA patients) and the normal group. With respect to the visual examination, 40% and 32% of stroke patients, 24% and 16% of TIA patients, and 4% and 0% of normal subjects were found to have tongue deviations when physicians “A” and “B” examined them. The variation showed the essentiality of the quantification method in a clinical setting. In the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC), the Area Under Curve (AUC, = 0.96) indicates good discrimination. The tongue deviation angle more than the optimum threshold value (= 3.2[DEGREE SIGN]) predicts a risk of stroke. CONCLUSIONS: In summary, we developed an effective quantification method to characterize the tongue deviation angle, and we confirmed the feasibility of recognizing the tongue deviation angle as an early warning sign of an impending stroke.

Concepts: Stroke, Transient ischemic attack, Statistical significance, Student's t-test, Group theory, Normal distribution, Standard deviation, Receiver operating characteristic


BACKGROUND: Shape of the dental root canal is highly patient specific. Automated identification methods of themedial line of dental root canals and the reproduction of their 3D shape can be beneficial forplanning endodontic interventions as severely curved root canals or multi-rooted teeth may posetreatment challenges. Accurate shape information of the root canals may also be used bymanufacturers of endodontic instruments in order to make more efficient clinical tools. METHOD: Novel image processing procedures dedicated to the automated detection of the medial axis of theroot canal from dental micro-CT and cone-beam CT records are developed. For micro-CT, the 3Dmodel of the root canal is built up from several hundred parallel cross sections, using imageenhancement, histogram based fuzzy c-means clustering, center point detection in the segmentedslice, three dimensional inner surface reconstruction, and potential field driven curve skeletonextraction in three dimensions. Cone-beam CT records are processed with image enhancement filtersand fuzzy chain based regional segmentation, followed by the reconstruction of the root canalsurface and detecting its skeleton via a mesh contraction algorithm. RESULTS: The proposed medial line identification and root canal detection algorithms are validated on clinicaldata sets. 25 micro-CT and 36 cone-beam-CT records are used in the validation procedure. Theoverall success rate of the automatic dental root canal identification was about 92% in bothprocedures. The algorithms proved to be accurate enough for endodontic therapy planning. CONCLUSIONS: Accurate medial line identification and shape detection algorithms of dental root canal have beendeveloped. Different procedures are defined for micro-CT and cone-beam CT records. Theautomated execution of the subsequent processing steps allows easy application of the algorithms inthe dental care. The output data of the image processing procedures is suitable for mathematicalmodeling of the central line. The proposed methods can help automate the preparation and design ofseveral kinds of endodontic interventions.

Concepts: Dimension, Root canal, Endodontic therapy, Endodontics, Curve, Analytic geometry, Canal, Canal+


A fiber optic sensor developed for the measurement of tendon forces was designed, numerically modeled, fabricated, and experimentally evaluated. The sensor incorporated fiber Bragg gratings and micro-fabricated stainless steel housings. A fiber Bragg grating is an optical device that is spectrally sensitive to axial strain. Stainless steel housings were designed to convert radial forces applied to the housing into axial forces that could be sensed by the fiber Bragg grating. The metal housings were fabricated by several methods including laser micromachining, swaging, and hydroforming. Designs are presented that allow for simultaneous temperature and force measurements as well as for simultaneous resolution of multi-axis forces.The sensor was experimentally evaluated by hydrostatic loading and in vitro testing. A commercial hydraulic burst tester was used to provide uniform pressures on the sensor in order to establish the linearity, repeatability, and accuracy characteristics of the sensor. The in vitro experiments were performed in excised tendon and in a dynamic gait simulator to simulate biological conditions. In both experimental conditions, the sensor was found to be a sensitive and reliable method for acquiring minimally invasive measurements of soft tissue forces. Our results suggest that this sensor will prove useful in a variety of biomechanical measurements.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optical fiber, Experiment, In vitro, Test method, Bragg's law, Diffraction grating, Fiber Bragg grating


BACKGROUND: In the last years, several methods and devices have been proposed to record the human mandibular movements, since they provide quantitative parameters that support the diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorders. The techniques currently employed suffer from a number of drawbacks including high price, unnatural to use, lack of support for real-time analysis and mandibular movements recording as a pure rotation. In this paper, we propose a specialized optical motion capture system, which causes a minimum obstruction and can support 3D mandibular movement analysis in real-time. METHODS: We used three infrared cameras together with nine reflective markers that were placed at key points of the face. Some classical techniques are suggested to conduct the camera calibration and three-dimensional reconstruction and we propose some specialized algorithms to automatically recognize our set of markers and track them along a motion capture session. RESULTS: To test the system, we developed a prototype software and performed a clinical experiment in a group of 22 subjects. They were instructed to execute several movements for the functional evaluation of the mandible while the system was employed to record them. The acquired parameters and the reconstructed trajectories were used to confirm the typical function of temporomandibular joint in some subjects and to highlight its abnormal behavior in others. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed system is an alternative to the existing optical, mechanical, electromagnetic and ultrasonic-based methods, and intends to address some drawbacks of currently available solutions. Its main goal is to assist specialists in diagnostic and treatment of temporomandibular disorders, since simple visual inspection may not be sufficient for a precise assessment of temporomandibular joint and associated muscles.

Concepts: Mandible, Joint, Motion capture, Temporomandibular joint, Temporomandibular joint disorder, Camera, Masseteric nerve


BACKGROUND: The second-order, infinite impulse response notch filter is widely used to remove electrical power line noise in electrocardiograms (ECGs). However this filtering process often introduces spurious ringing artifacts in the vicinity of raw signal with sharp transitions. It is challenging to simultaneously remove these two types of noise without losing vital information about cardiac activities. OBJECTIVE: Our objective is to devise a method to remove the power-line interference without introducing artifacts nor losing vital information. To this end we have developed the “hybrid approach” involving two-sided filtration and multi-iterative approximation techniques. The two-sided filtration technique can suppress the interference but some cardiac components are lost. The lost information can be restored using multi-iterative approximation technique. RESULTS: For evaluation, four artificial data sets, each including 91 ECGs of different heart rates, were generated by a dynamical model. Four publicly-accessible sets of clinical data (MIT-BIH Arrhythmia, QT, PTB Diagnostic ECG, and T-Wave Alternans Challenge Databases) were also selected. Our new hybrid approach and the existing method were tested with these two types of signal under various pre-determined conditions. In contrast with the existing method, the hybrid approach can provide more than 27.40 dB and 37.77 dB reduction in signal distortion for 95% and 60% of artificial ECGs respectively; it can provide in excess of 11.78 dB and 17.48 dB reduction in distortion for 95% and 60% of these real records respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, a significant reduction in signal distortion is demonstrated. These test results indicate that the newly proposed approach outperforms the traditional method assessed on both the artificial and clinical ECGs and suggest it could be of practical use for clinicians in the future.

Concepts: Signal processing, Digital signal processing, Noise, Distortion, Filter, Low-pass filter, Gibbs phenomenon, Ringing artifacts


Cardiac dysfunction constitutes common cardiovascular health issues in the society, and has been an investigation topic of strong focus by researchers in the medical imaging community. Diagnostic modalities based on echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, chest radiography and computed tomography are common techniques that provide cardiovascular structural information to diagnose heart defects. However, functional information of cardiovascular flow, which can in fact be used to support the diagnosis of many cardiovascular diseases with a myriad of hemodynamics performance indicators, remains unexplored to its full potential. Some of these indicators constitute important cardiac functional parameters affecting the cardiovascular abnormalities. With the advancement of computer technology that facilitates high speed computational fluid dynamics, the realization of a support diagnostic platform of hemodynamics quantification and analysis can be achieved. This article reviews the state-of-the-art medical imaging and high fidelity multi-physics computational analyses that together enable reconstruction of cardiovascular structures and hemodynamic flow patterns within them, such as of the left ventricle (LV) and carotid bifurcations. The combined medical imaging and hemodynamic analysis enables us to study the mechanisms of cardiovascular disease-causing dysfunctions, such as how (1) cardiomyopathy causes left ventricular remodeling and loss of contractility leading to heart failure, and (2) modeling of LV construction and simulation of intra-LV hemodynamics can enable us to determine the optimum procedure of surgical ventriculation to restore its contractility and health This combined medical imaging and hemodynamics framework can potentially extend medical knowledge of cardiovascular defects and associated hemodynamic behavior and their surgical restoration, by means of an integrated medical image diagnostics and hemodynamic performance analysis framework.

Concepts: Medicine, X-ray, Cardiology, Heart, Medical imaging, Radiography, Magnetic resonance imaging, Computational fluid dynamics


This work is part of a broader research that focuses on ocular health. Three outlines are the basis of the pyramid that comprehend the research as a whole: authors' previous work, which has provided the public to self-check their own sunglasses regarding the ultraviolet protection compatible to their category; Brazilian national survey in order to improve nationalization of sunglasses standards; and studies conducted on revisiting requirements of worldwide sunglasses standards, in which this work is inserted. It is still controversial on the literature the ultraviolet (UV) radiation effects on the ocular media, but the World Health Organization has established safe limits on the exposure of eyes to UV radiation based on the studies reported in literature. Sunglasses play an important role in providing safety, and their lenses should provide adequate UV filters. Regarding UV protection for ocular media, the resistance-to-irradiance test for sunglasses under many national standards requires irradiating lenses for 50 uninterrupted hours with a 450 W solar simulator. This artificial aging test may provide a corresponding evaluation of exposure to the sun.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Sun, Electromagnetic spectrum, Sunlight, Psoriasis, Radiation, Sunscreen, Sun tanning


Basic understanding of motor control and its processes is a topic of well-known high relevance. During adolescence walking is theoretically a well-achieved fundamental skill, having reached a mature manifestation; on the other hand, adolescence is marked by a period of accelerated increases in both height and weight, referred as growth spurt. Thus, this period was chosen as a controlled and natural environment for partially isolating one of the factors influencing motor development (segment growth). The aim of the study was to compare gait performance of growing and not growing male adolescents during walking in single task (ST) and dual task (DT), in order to study which are the modifications that motor control handles when encountering a sudden change in segment length.

Concepts: Natural environment, Adolescence, Puberty, Control, Motor skill, Motor neuron


Remote physiological measurement might be very useful for biomedical diagnostics and monitoring. This study presents an efficient method for remotely measuring heart rate and respiratory rate from video captured by a hovering unmanned aerial vehicle (UVA). The proposed method estimates heart rate and respiratory rate based on the acquired signals obtained from video-photoplethysmography that are synchronous with cardiorespiratory activity.

Concepts: Estimator, Measurement, Pulse, Unmanned aerial vehicle, Unmanned vehicles


BACKGROUND: Acute respiratory infections are the leading cause of childhood mortality. The lack of physicians in rural areas of developing countries makes difficult their correct diagnosis and treatment. The staff of rural health facilities (health-care technicians) may not be qualified to distinguish respiratory diseases by auscultation. For this reason, the goal of this project is the development of a tele-stethoscopy system that allows a physician to receive real-time cardio-respiratory sounds from a remote auscultation, as well as video images showing where the technician is placing the stethoscope on the patient’s body. METHODS: A real-time wireless stethoscopy system was designed. The initial requirements were: 1) The system must send audio and video synchronously over IP networks, not requiring an Internet connection; 2) It must preserve the quality of cardiorespiratory sounds, allowing to adapt the binaural pieces and the chestpiece of standard stethoscopes, and; 3) Cardiorespiratory sounds should be recordable at both sides of the communication. In order to verify the diagnostic capacity of the system, a clinical validation with eight specialists has been designed. In a preliminary test, twelve patients have been auscultated by all the physicians using the tele-stethoscopy system, versus a local auscultation using traditional stethoscope. The system must allow listen the cardiac (systolic and diastolic murmurs, gallop sound, arrhythmias) and respiratory (rhonchi, rales and crepitations, wheeze, diminished and bronchial breath sounds, pleural friction rub) sounds. RESULTS: The design, development and initial validation of the real-time wireless tele-stethoscopy system are described in detail. The system was conceived from scratch as open-source, low-cost and designed in such a way that many universities and small local companies in developing countries may manufacture it. Only free open-source software has been used in order to minimize manufacturing costs and look for alliances to support its improvement and adaptation. The microcontroller firmware code, the computer software code and the PCB schematics are available for free download in a subversion repository hosted in SourceForge. CONCLUSIONS: It has been shown that real-time tele-stethoscopy, together with a videoconference system that allows a remote specialist to oversee the auscultation, may be a very helpful tool in rural areas of developing countries.

Concepts: Medicine, Blood pressure, Heart sounds, Auscultation, Stethoscope, Rural culture, Rales, Pericardial friction rub