To date, the new technology has only been tested in a test rig, but in principle it can open the way for earlier and more reliable diagnosis of, for example, breast cancer. In a long-term perspective, there are a number of other radiological applications in which contrast substances are used today.
To grow, a cancer needs to form its own blood vessels, which are often of poor quality and can leak. 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.
With Hans 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,” relates Hans Bornefalk. “ Radiology examinations can be carried out quicker and more reliably and the risk for blurredness due to movement between images is eliminated.”
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.
“This fits well into our mammography operations and will reinforce the world-leading position of Swedish industry in this area,” says Jesper Söderqvist, President of Sectra Mamea in Kista.
In intense competition, Hans Bornefalk’s work was recognized a few weeks ago as the “Best Student Contribution” at a major conference for medical radiology technology in San Diego, California, in the US:
Title of the doctoral thesis: Computer-aided Detection and Novel Mammography Imaging Techniques.”