There is a new method with the potential to increase the efficiency of contrast radiology that may open the way to earlier and more reliable diagnosis of breast and other cancers. With new integrated electronics and signal processing, the image quality can be improved sharply, according to a demonstration by Swedish doctoral student Hans Bornefalk at the Royal Institute of Technology on March 10th as part of his doctoral presentation.
In contrast radiology, a contrast substance such as iodine is injected into the blood stream so that the blood vessels can be seen on the radiology images. Indirectly, then the cancer is also seen through the leakage in these blood vessels. Normally, a series of images is required to secure the contrast image.
Through Bornefalk’s new method, one radiology image is sufficient to benefit from the contrast information. In addition, the image quality can be sharply improved or the ray dosage reduced. This is possible by being able to trace and register each x-ray separately. Since the x-rays can also be separated into two categories, in which one has higher and the other lower energy than the contrast substance’s threshold value for maximum absorption energy, totally new possibilities emerge.
“With the proper electronics, you can precisely separate the x-rays that are above and below this threshold value and highlight the differences between the blood vessels and surrounding tissue in a totally different manner,” said Bornefalk. “Radiology examinations can be carried out quicker and more reliably and the risk for blurredness due to movement between images is eliminated,” he added.
Clinical tests are required to verify the new technology and maximize the clinical benefits. Sectra, a company that develops and manufactures equipment for radiology examinations, has plans to integrate the new technology into its future products.
Bornefalk’s work was recognized a month ago as the “Best Student Contribution” at HIMSS 2006 in San Diego in February.