Next to lung cancer, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why so many medical professionals encourage women to get mammograms, even though the tests are imperfect at best: only a minority of suspicious mammograms actually leads to a cancer diagnosis.
That results in lots of needless worry for women and their families—not to mention the time, discomfort and expense of additional tests, including ultrasounds and biopsies.
Recently, a different type of test, ultrasound elastography, has been used to pinpoint possible tumors throughout the body, including in the breast. “It uses imaging to measure the stiffness of tissue, and cancer tissues are stiff,” says Jingfeng Jiang, a biomedical engineer at Michigan Technological University.
Those images can be breathtakingly clear: Jiang shows one elastogram in which the tumor is as different from normal breast tissue as a yolk is from the white in a fried egg. However, not all images are that precise.
“Depending on who does the reading, the accuracy can vary from 95 percent to 40 percent,” he said. “Forty percent is very bad—you get 50 percent when you toss a coin. In part, the problem is that ultrasound elastography is a new modality, and people don’t know much about it.”
Ultrasound elastography could be an excellent screening tool for women who have suspicious mammograms, but only if the results are properly interpreted. Jiang, who helped develop ultrasound elastography when he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, reasoned that clinicians might improve their accuracy if they could practice more. So he and his colleagues set about to build a virtual breast.
Like a simulator used to train fledgling surgeons, their virtual breast—a 3D, computer-generated “phantom”—would let medical professionals practice in the safety of the lab. It was developed using data from the Visible Human Project, which gathered thousands of cross-sectional photos from a female cadaver. Thus, it mimics the intricacy of the real thing, incorporating a variety of tissue types and anatomical structures, such as ligaments and milk ducts.
Clinicians can practice looking for cancer by applying virtual ultrasound elastography to the virtual breast and then evaluating the resulting images. Jiang hopes that eventually the lab software will be available to anyone who needs the training.
Jiang’s team, including graduate student Yu Wang and undergraduate Emily Helminen, both of Michigan Tech, presented a poster on their work, “A Virtual Breast Elastography Phantom Lab Using Open Source Software,” at the IEEE Ultrasonics Symposium, held Sept. 3-6 in Chicago.
Their work is supported by a $452,780 grant from the National Institutes of Health through the National Cancer Institute. The grant number is R15CA179409-01A1.
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.
Jennifer Donovan | Eurek Alert!
On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern
Penn vet research identifies new target for taming Ebola
12.01.2017 | University of Pennsylvania
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences