Typically, X-rays are used to examine bones, while magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound are used to observe soft tissue. But an emerging technology allows X-rays to shoot soft tissue, and can provide higher resolution sqe cbits than existing technologies to reveal tumors and other problems earlier.
Now a team from Tohoku University has used the latest X-ray to take the first image, proving the feasibility of the technology. Elastography is an important branch of medical imaging, focusing on the stiffness or softness of tissue.
Shear waves are sent through the body and then used imaging techniques such as ultrasound or MRI to observe how they travel. Waves move faster in hard tissue than in soft tissue, and because tumors, lesions and hardened arteries are harder than surrounding tissue, the technique can highlight the signs of these diseases.
Typically, X-rays work differently, but new research suggests it can also be used for elastic imaging. If so, the resulting image will have a higher resolution and will be able to recognize things in the size of microns rather than millimeters.
Wataru Yashiro, lead researcher on the study, said: “Higher accuracy not only means being able to identify smaller or deeper lesions, but is also important for patients because this small lesions may be newer lesions and can usually occur early in the disease or condition.” “
X-ray elastic imaging has now shifted from principle to practice. The Northeast team used the technology to capture the first images and show that it was able to identify the stiffness of different materials. The researchers imaged polyacrylamide gels, some of which contained stiffer zirconium dioxide particles. To be sure, X-ray elastic imaging methods can detect these tiny intruders.
After showing that the concept is indeed feasible, the researchers say the next step is to create 3D images and eventually develop X-ray elastic imaging equipment for medical diagnostics.
The study was published in applied physics letters.