3D imaging, temperature map allow physicians to see ablation of brain tumors

Photo courtesy of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. 

Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering are making radiofrequency ablation safer and faster with real-time thermal imaging and an associated probe device, according to an April 9 USC news release

The research was published online March 3 in IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 

“Although ablation is becoming increasingly popular, there is still no thermal imaging technology in regular clinical use to monitor these procedures in real time and ensure that the correct thermal dose is delivered the first time,” said co-author and research assistant professor John Stang, PhD, of the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, in a prepared statement.  

The non-invasive procedure involves microwave signals being continuously transmitted and received into the designated treatment area. The signals and information from prior imaging examinations are then produced into a 3D quantitative temperature map of the region being operated on.  

Stang and co-author Mahta Moghaddam, PhD, director of the Microwave Systems, Sensors and Imaging Lab at USC, hope that the new method and device will guide a more focused treatment and ultimately reduce follow-up imaging exams, time in the operating room, overtreatment, and procedural risks and costs.  

“Without real-time monitoring, there is the potential for both under-treatment and over-treatment,” Moghaddam said in a prepared statement. “If there is under-treatment, doctors must perform additional rounds of thermal ablation until all of the tumor is destroyed. Each repeat ablation carries increased risk of infection or other complications and takes up more time in the operating room.”