Deadly lung disease imaged with 3D x-ray technology for the first time

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British scientists have successfully used advanced 3D x-ray imaging technology to image an aggressive form of lung disease in a new way, providing more insight into how the disease develops inside the body.

The research utilizes powerful scanning equipment originally meant to analyze large industrial parts such as turbine blades to visualize tissue from patients suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a disease that causes lung tissues to becomes thick, stiff and scarred over time.

The researchers used the technology, known as microfocus CT, to image biopsy samples in high-definition 3D, said lead author Mark Jones, MD, of the University of Southampton in England.

"Whilst accurate diagnosis of IPF is essential to start the correct treatment, in certain cases this can be extremely challenging to do using the tools currently available. This technology advance is very exciting as for the first time it gives us the chance to view lung biopsy samples in 3D,” he said in university  press release. “We think that the new information gained from seeing the lung in 3D has the potential to transform how diseases such as IPF are diagnosed. It will also help to increase our understanding of how these scarring lung diseases develop which we hope will ultimately mean better targeted treatments are developed for every patient."

The researchers will now shift the focus of their study to how the new technique can improve the accuracy of disease diagnosis and ensure proper treatment for patients.