Sobel edge detection for quantifying the effectiveness of focused ultrasound thalamotomy for tremor relief

Vered Aharsonson, Michiel Postema, Robyn Gebbie, Jesse Van Der Merwe, Ilana Schlesinger

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    Focused ultrasound on the thalamus is employed to relieve tremor in movement disorders. The treatment efficacy is currently assessed by subjective observation of patient tremor during hand movements. The purpose of this study was to create a simple quantitative method to assess tremor based on traditional pen-and-paper spiral drawing that could be employed during treatment and follow-up visits. Image processing was employed to automatically and rapidly clean scanned spiral and line drawings and to isolate the minimal part of the drawing that could provide sufficient data for tremor detection. Sobel edge detection and easily-interpretable statistics of the distribution of edge-angle orientations in the spirals relative to the spiral centres were used as tremor measures. The method was applied to scanned drawings of 122 tremor patients before treatment and in follow-up visits. Discrimination analysis of the tremor measure between drawings in the session before treatment and the follow-up sessions was carried out. The processing yielded correctly cropped and clean spirals. The tremor measure demonstrated consistent tremor reduction in the treated hand drawings in all five follow-up visits during the first year following treatment date in 76 patients from the study cohort. In this study we developed a computational method that rapidly computed tremor severity estimate in an explainable and clinically useful manner from a traditional pen-and-paper spiral drawing. This rapid quantitative and objective tremor assessment can easily be implemented during focused ultrasound and replace the subjective assessment currently employed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-20
    Number of pages4
    JournalCurrent Directions in Biomedical Engineering
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2023
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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