News | SPECT Imaging | November 08, 2019

New X-ray Technology Could Revolutionize How Doctors Identify Abnormalities

Image by Dr. Manuel González Reyes from Pixabay

Image by Dr. Manuel González Reyes from Pixabay 

November 8, 2019 — Using ground-breaking technology, researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and University of Baltimore (UMB) are testing a new method of X-ray imaging that uses color to identify microfractures in bones. Microfractures were previously impossible to see using standard X-ray imaging. The findings associated with this advancement in color (spectral) CT (computed tomography) imaging are published in Advanced Functional Materials.

Since the discovery of X-rays in 1895, the basics of the technology have remained consistent. Doctors and scientists use them to see dense materials, like bones, but the technology's capabilities have been limited. Dipanjan Pan, Ph.D., professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering UMBC, and professor of radiology at UMB, is the corresponding author of this new study. Looking ahead to the next generation of X-ray technology, he asked, "How can we detect a bone microcrack, something that is not visible using X-ray imaging?"

Pan explains that to examine this question, his lab developed nanoparticles that navigate and attach specifically to areas where microcracks exist. He likes to call them "GPS particles." They started conducting this research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The researchers have programmed the particles to latch onto the correct area of the microcrack. Once the particles attach to microcracks, they remain there, which is crucial to the imaging process.

The particles contain the element hafnium. A new X-ray-based technique developed by a New Zealand-based company MARS then take CT images of the body and the hafnium particles appear in color. This provides a very clear image of where the bone microcracks are located.

Hafnium is used because its composition makes it detectable to X-rays, generating a signal that can then be used to image the cracks. Pan's lab showed that hafnium is stable enough to be used in testing involving living creatures, and can be excreted safely from the body. The lab has not yet begun testing on humans, but the technology to do so may be available as soon as 2020.

As for other applications for spectral CT imaging with this hafnium breakthrough, the research suggests that this methodology could be used to detect much more serious problems. For example, in order to determine whether a person has a blockage in their heart, doctors often will perform a stress test to detect abnormalities, which comes with a significant amount of risk. One day in the near future, doctors may be able to use spectral CT to determine whether there is a blockage in organs.

"Regular CT does not have a soft-tissue contrast. It cannot tell you where your blood vessels are. Spectral CT can help solve that problem," Pan explained. He notes that although more research is needed to begin using spectral CT in this way, he anticipates that it will be a "tremendous" new tool for radiologists. Fatemeh Ostadhossein, Ph.D., a recent graduate of the Pan lab, was first author on this study.

Related Content

62-year-old woman with pure ground-glass nodules (GGN). PET/CT fusion image shows pure GGN with tumor maximum standardized uptake value of 2.8 (circle).

62-year-old woman with pure ground-glass nodules (GGN). PET/CT fusion image shows pure GGN with tumor maximum standardized uptake value of 2.8 (circle).

News | PET-CT | November 15, 2019
November 15, 2019 — According to an article published ahead-of-print in the...
An image on Brigham and Women's Hospital's 7T MRI system

An image on Brigham and Women's Hospital's 7T MRI system. Image courtesy of Brigham and Women's Hospital

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | November 13, 2019
November 13, 2019 — Increased immune system activity along the surface of the brain, or meningeal inflammation, may b
The ALS produces various wavelengths of bright light that can be used to explore the microscopic chemistry, structure, and other properties of samples

Two researchers from Cairo University in Egypt brought 32 bone samples and two soil samples to study using X-ray and infrared light-based techniques at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS). The ALS produces various wavelengths of bright light that can be used to explore the microscopic chemistry, structure, and other properties of samples. Image courtesy of Marilyn Sargent/Berkeley Lab

News | Radiology Imaging | November 13, 2019
November 13, 2019 — Experiments at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (...
Nov. 8 is the anniversary of the discovery of the X-ray by German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen

Wilhelm Roentgen

News | X-Ray | November 08, 2019
November 8, 2019 — Nov.
This chest X-ray of a patient being treated for e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury shows lung opacities, densities and whitish cloud-like areas which are typically seen with unusual pneumonias, fluid in lungs or lung inflammation. Image courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare

This chest X-ray of a patient being treated for e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury shows lung opacities, densities and whitish cloud-like areas which are typically seen with unusual pneumonias, fluid in lungs or lung inflammation. Image courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare

News | Clinical Trials | November 08, 2019
November 8, 2019 — As the outbreak of lung injuries and deaths associated with e-cigarettes, or...
Unlike other technologies for imaging the placenta, pCASL MRI can distinguish maternal blood from fetal blood

Image courtesy of Pixabay

News | Clinical Trials | November 07, 2019
November 7, 2019 — A new imaging technique to track
 Carestream Focus 35C Detector

Image courtesy of Carestream

News | Digital Radiography (DR) | November 06, 2019
November 6, 2019 — Carestream’s new Focus 35C Detector with Image Suit
Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging has published a special report on lung injury resulting from the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), or “vaping.”

Image by Lindsay Fox from Pixabay

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | November 06, 2019
November 6, 2019 — Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging has published a special report on lung injury resulting
Philips Medical System is recalling its older Forte Gamma Camera SPECT imaging systems due to the possibility of the detectors falling off of the unit onto the patient. The two gamma cameras can bee seen in this photo on either side of the patient bed. These can be rotated above the patient.

Philips Medical System is recalling its older Forte Gamma Camera SPECT imaging systems due to the possibility of the detectors falling off of the unit onto the patient. The two gamma cameras can be seen in this photo on either side of the patient bed. These can be rotated above the patient.

Feature | Nuclear Imaging | November 05, 2019 | Dave Fornell, Editor
November 5, 2019 — Philips Medical System is recalling the Forte Gamma Camera System due to the potential for the 660