Objective: Novel applications of transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography, such as the assessment of cerebral vessel narrowing/occlusion or the non-invasive estimation of intracranial pressure (ICP), require high-quality maximal flow velocity waveforms. However, due to the low signal-to-noise ratio of TCD spectrograms, measuring the maximal flow velocity is challenging. In this work, we propose a calibration-free algorithm for estimating maximal flow velocities from TCD spectrograms and present a pertaining beat-by-beat signal quality index. Methods: Our algorithm performs multiple binary segmentations of the TCD spectrogram and then extracts the pertaining envelopes (maximal flow velocity waveforms) via an edge-following step that incorporates physiological constraints. The candidate maximal flow velocity waveform with the highest signal quality index is finally selected. Results: We evaluated the algorithm on 32 TCD recordings from the middle cerebral and internal carotid arteries in 6 healthy and 12 neurocritical care patients. Compared to manual spectrogram tracings, we obtained a relative error of −1.5%, when considering the whole waveform, and a relative error of −3.3% for the peak systolic velocity. Conclusion: The feedback loop between the signal quality assessment and the binary segmentation yields a robust algorithm for maximal flow velocity estimation. Clinical Impact: The algorithm has already been used in our ICP estimation pipeline. By making the code and the data publicly available, we hope that the algorithm will be a useful building block for the development of novel TCD applications that require high-quality flow velocity waveforms.
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