Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Photoacoustics Shows Promise for Identifying Breast Cancer

Published on the May 14, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Researchers in The Netherlands are in the first stages of testing a new technology that may allow radiologists to detect and see breast tumors with improved accuracy without exposing patients to radiation.

Working with 12 patients with known malignancies, researchers at the University of Twente and Medisch Spectrum Twente Hospital in Oldenzaal, tested whether they could identify and see breast tumors through a technique called photoacoustics. Although the research, published in the open-access journal Optics Express, isn’t yet ready for clinical implementation, the findings are encouraging, according to some industry experts.

These are diagnostic images of a mixed infiltrating lobular and ductal carcinoma in the right breast of a 57-year-old patient. The cranio-caudal X-ray mammogram (left) showed an architectural distortion of about 22 mm in the lateral part of the right breast. Ultrasonography (middle) showed the presence of an unsharply edged hypoechoic lesion with a hyperechoic border at the expected location. Photoacoustic mammography (right) showed a confined high-contrast abnormality with a contrast in excess of five and a maximum diameter of 14 mm at the expected lesion depth. Here, a transversal cross-section through this abnormality is visualized. Credit: Michelle Heijblom, University of Twente

Photoacoustics is a hybrid optical and acoustical imaging technique that uses red and infrared light technology, known as optical mammography, to image tissue and detect tumors. This method can identify cancers because the blood hemoglobin feeding the tumors absorbs red wavelengths, exposing the contrast between tumors with increased blood vessel activity and normal areas of the breast.

“While we’re very early in the development of this new technology, it is promising,” said Michelle Heijblom, a researcher and PhD student at the University of Twente in Enschede, in a statement about the study. “Our hope is that these early results will one day lead to the development of a safe, comfortable, and accurate alternative or adjunct to conventional techniques for detecting breast tumors.”

However, targeting tumors with photoacoustics can be difficult. The limited bandwidth of the photoacoustic detector can sometimes convey the wrong size or shape of a tumor. To overcome the hurdle, researchers paired the technique’s ability to differentiate between benign and malignant tissues with ultrasound and created the Twente Photoacoustic Mammoscope (PAM).

To read the remainder of the story at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/womens-imaging/content/article/113619/2071940

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May 14, 2012 - Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , ,

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