Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New diagnostic imaging techniques deemed safe in simulations


Gamma and neutron imaging offer possible improvements over existing techniques such as X-ray or CT, but their safety is not yet fully understood.

Using computer simulations, imaging the liver and breast with gamma or neutron radiation was found to be safe, delivering levels of radiation on par with conventional medical imaging, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

This shows simulated 3D dose measurements of the breast showing the dose imparted to the whole body. The dose is shown on a red and yellow color map, where yellow shows maximum dose.

Credit: Duke Medicine

This shows simulated 3D dose measurements of the abdomen/liver showing the dose imparted to the whole body. The dose is shown on a red and yellow color map, where yellow shows maximum dose.

Credit: Duke Medicine

The findings, published in the June issue of the journal Medical Physics, will help researchers to move testing of gamma and neutron imaging into animals and later humans.

Conventional medical imaging tools – including X-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI – detect disease by finding the anatomy, or shape and size, of the abnormality. When using these tools to screen for cancer, a tumor must be large enough to be detected, and if found, a surgical biopsy is generally required to determine if it is benign or malignant.

... more about:
»CT »X-ray »benign »biopsy »breast »liver »scans »techniques

Duke researchers are working to develop imaging technologies to detect disease in its earliest stages, much before the tumors grow large enough to be detected using conventional methods. Two imaging techniques they are researching are Neutron Stimulated Emission Computed Tomography and Gamma Stimulated Emission Computed Tomography.

Research has shown that many tumors have an out-of-balance concentration of trace-level elements naturally found in the body, such as aluminum and rubidium. These elements stray from their normal concentration levels at the earliest stages of tumor growth, potentially providing an early signal of disease.

The neutron and gamma imaging methods measure the concentrations of elements in the body, determining molecular properties without the need for a biopsy or injection of contrast media. The goal is for these tests to be able to distinguish between benign and malignant lesions, as well as healthy tissue.

"Gamma and neutron imaging may eventually be able to help us to detect cancer earlier without having to perform an invasive biopsy," said Anuj Kapadia, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology at Duke University School of Medicine and the study's senior author.

Gamma and neutron imaging may also have applications for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Patients currently wait weeks or months to see if their cancer is responding to a particular treatment and shrinking in size, but gamma and neutron imaging may be able to tell if a treatment is working earlier by detecting molecular changes directly within the tumor.

While improved diagnostic tests would provide clinicians with useful tools, one ongoing question is the safety of gamma and particularly neutron radiation. Upon entering the body, neutrons scatter considerably, with the possibility of reaching several vital organs. Thus, researchers have been concerned about how much radiation is absorbed in the targeted organ versus surrounding tissue. For instance, in a breast scan, how much radiation is delivered unnecessarily to the heart or lungs?

Using detailed computer simulations, Kapadia and his colleagues estimated the radiation dose delivered to the liver and breast using neutron and gamma imaging. They found that the majority of radiation was delivered to organs directly within the radiation beam, and a much lower dose was absorbed by tissue outside of the radiation beam.

In simulated breast scans, the radiation was almost entirely limited to the area of the breast being scanned. The dose to the breast accounted for 96 percent of the radiation in neutron scans and 99 percent in gamma scans. The heart and lungs received less than 1 percent of the radiation dose.

When imaging the liver in simulation, the neutron scan imparted the highest radiation dose to the liver, while in the gamma scan, the stomach wall absorbed the greatest amount of radiation given its location in the direct path of the beam. Further work is needed to reduce and better target gamma radiation doses in liver scans.

"The results show that despite the use of a highly scattering particle such as a neutron, the dose from neutron imaging is on par with other clinical imaging techniques such as X-ray CT," Kapadia said. "Neutron and gamma radiation may become viable imaging alternatives if further testing proves them to be safe and effective."

The researchers will use this information to move their studies into animals, and later, humans.


In addition to Kapadia, authors include Matthew D. Belley and William Paul Segars of Duke. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01-EB001838, T32-EB007185).

Rachel Harrison | Eurek Alert!
Further information:

Further reports about: CT X-ray benign biopsy breast liver scans techniques

More articles from Medical Engineering:

nachricht Gentle sensors for diagnosing brain disorders
29.09.2016 | King Abdullah University of Science and Technology

nachricht New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease - opens up possibilities for new drug development
28.09.2016 | Lund University

All articles from Medical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>