News | May 05, 2015

Novel X-ray Technology Improves Contrast in Soft Tissue

Compact synchrotron makes tumors visible

May 5, 2015 — Soft tissue disorders like tumors are very difficult to recognize using normal X-ray machines. There is hardly any distinction between healthy tissue and tumors. Researchers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have now developed a technology using a compact synchrotron source that measures not only X-ray absorption, but also phase shifts and scattering. Tissue that is hardly recognizable using traditional X-ray machines is now visible.

X-ray images have become an integral part of daily medical practice. Bones, for example, absorb large amounts of X-rays because of their high calcium content. This allows them to be differentiated from air-filled cavities like the lungs and surrounding soft tissue. However, because of their very similar absorption coefficients, soft tissue, organs and structures inside organs, like tumors, are hardly discernable from one another using the medical devices deployed in medicine today.

Now a group of scientists headed by Franz Pfeiffer, professor of biomedical physics in the Physics Department and the faculty of medicine at TU München, have for the first time succeeded in making such soft tissue visible. The scientists used a new kind of X-ray source that was developed only a few years ago.

Unlike classical X-ray tubes, a synchrotron generates highly focused, monochromatic X-rays. The individual rays all have the same energy and wavelength. In the past, X-rays with these properties could only be generated in large particle accelerators, which have a circumference of at least 1 kilometer. The compact synchrotron, in contrast, has merely the size of a car and fits into a normal laboratory.

“Monochromatic radiation is much better suited for measuring other parameters, in addition to absorption,” explained Elena Eggl, doctoral candidate and the chair of biomedical physics. “This is because it does not lead to artifacts that deteriorate the image quality.”

The scientists inserted an optical grating into the focused X-ray beam, allowing them to detect even the tiniest phase shifts and scattering of the radiation in addition to the absorption of X-rays. The first phase contrast tomography image from a compact synchrotron source was successfully acquired.

The phase contrast, dark field and absorption images made using the new technology have complementary properties. Liquid in tissue that remains indiscernible and, thus, invisible using conventional X-ray tubes, suddenly comes to life. The greatly improved soft tissue contrast of the new X-ray technology could also help make tumors detectable earlier on and enable quick diagnoses – in medical emergencies, for example.

The clarity of the new technology becomes apparent when comparing white and brown fatty tissue. “In a mouse we were able to recognize not only heart, liver and other organs much better, but could even differentiate between brown and white body fat,” said Eggl.

Brown fatty tissue, which occurs mainly in newborns, can support the burning of normal white fatty tissue. It is a relatively new discovery that adults, too, still have brown fatty tissue — tissue that, as some researchers hope, can be reactivated to help obese people lose weight.

While these experiments were performed using an initial prototype setup of Lyncean Technologies Inc. in California, a significantly improved compact synchrotron source is under construction at the Garching Research Campus. It is part of the “Center for Advanced Laser Applications” (CALA), a joint project of the TU München and the Ludwig-Maximillians Universität (LMU). Eggl and Pfeiffer, in collaboration with colleagues in laser physics at the LMU and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, hope to further improve the new X-ray technology.

For more information: www.tum.de/en

Related Content

Rayence C-Series wireless DR detector

Image courtesy of Rayence

News | Digital Radiography (DR) | January 27, 2020
January 27, 2020 — The expansion of med...
The Philips Zenition 70 mobile C-arm with flat detector

The Philips Zenition 70 mobile C-arm with flat detector.

News | Mobile C-Arms | January 27, 2020
January 27, 2020 — Following its launch in 2019, Phi...
Iodine-based CT contrast ready for scanning with a Canon Aquilion One 320-slice CT system at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in the Chicago suburbs.
News | Radiology Imaging | January 22, 2020
January 22, 2020 — The risk of administering modern...
Medical imaging technology company Oxipit announced partnership with Swiss medical distribution company Healthcare Konnect to bring ChestEye AI imaging suite to healthcare institutions in Nigeria
News | Artificial Intelligence | January 22, 2020
January 22, 2020 — Medical imaging technology company Oxipit ann
This is a lung X-ray reviewed automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) to identify a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) in the color coded area. This AI app from Lunit is awaiting final FDA review and in planned to be integrated into several vendors' mobile digital radiography (DR) systems. Fujifilm showed this software integrated as a work-in-progress into its mobile X-ray system at RSNA 2019. GE Healthcare has its own version of this software for its mobile r=ray systems that gained FDA in 2019.   #RSNA #

This is a lung X-ray reviewed automatically by artificial intelligence (AI) to identify a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) in the color coded area. This AI app from Lunit is awaiting final FDA review and in planned to be integrated into several vendors' mobile digital radiography (DR) systems. Fujifilm showed this software integrated as a work-in-progress into its mobile X-ray system at RSNA 2019. GE Healthcare has its own version of this software for its mobile r=ray systems that gained FDA in 2019.

Feature | RSNA | January 20, 2020 | Dave Fornell, Editor
Here are images of some of the newest new medical imaging technologies displayed on the expo floor at the ...
Gadolinium based contrast dye in brain MRI

Gadolinium contrast agents (GBCAs) are partly retained in the brain, raising safety concerns, as seen in this MRI.

News | Contrast Media | January 17, 2020
January 17, 2020 — Bracco Diagnostics Inc., the U.
Nanox secures $26M supported by strategic investment from Foxconn, unveiling the Startek-inspired AI Biobed for early detection
News | X-Ray | January 16, 2020
January 16, 2020 — Nanox, an innovative medical imaging techn
Carestream’s X-ray digital tomosynthesis functionality creates three-dimensional datasets from digital radiography (DR) that can be scrolled through similar to computed tomography (CT) imaging. It received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2020. Digital tomosynthesis uses a single sweep of X-ray exposures and streamlines operator workflow by separating the process of DT exposure acquisition from image volume formation.
News | Digital Radiography (DR) | January 15, 2020
January 15, 2020 — Carestream’s X-ray digital tomosynthesis (DT) functionality, which creates three-dimensional datas
Imaging Technology News (ITN) has been acquired by Wainscot Media
News | Imaging Technology News - ITN | January 14, 2020
January 14, 2020 — Park Ridge, N.J.-based publisher Wainscot Medi...
Videos | RSNA | January 13, 2020
ITN Editor Dave Fornell takes a tour of some of the most innovative new medical imaging technologies displayed on the