Thanks to new 3D imaging developed at the University of Michigan, radiation can now be measured during treatment. Medical professionals will beable to map the radiation dose within a body by capturing and amplifying tiny sound waves created when X-rays heat tissues in the body. This first-of-its-kind view of an interaction provides new data to guide treatments in real time.
Hundreds of thousands of cancer patients receive treatment with radiation every year, which bombards an area of the body with high energy waves and particles. These are usually X-rays. The radiation damages or kills cancer cells so they can’t spread. But the benefits of these treatments can be undermined by a lack of precision, as healthy cells can also be filled or damaged during the process. The treatment can also raise the risk of new cancers developing.
Xueding Wang, PhD, the Jonathan Rubin Collegiate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, professor of radiology, and corresponding author of the study in Nature Biotechnology said, “Once you start delivering radiation, the body is pretty much a black box. We don’t know exactly where the X-rays are hitting inside the body, and we don’t know how much radiation we’re delivering to the target, and each body is different, so making predictions for both aspects is tricky.”
Thanks to this real-time 3D imaging, physicians can more accurately direct radiation toward cancerous cells and limit the impact of the exposure of adjacent tissues.
Sound waves are created when X-rays are turned into thermal energy when they are absorbed into body tissues. Because the heating causes the tissue to expand rapidly, the expansion results in a sound wave. However, the acoustic wave is very weak and usually can’t be detected by typical ultrasound technology. The new ionizing radiation acoustic imaging system developed by the University of Michigan detects the wave with an array of ultrasonic transducers positioned on the side of the patient.
An oncology clinic could alter the level of trajectory of radiation during the process, thanks to the images in-hand. This would ensure treatments that are safer and more effective.
“In the future, we could use the imaging information to compensate for uncertainties that arise from positioning, organ motion and anatomical variation during radiation therapy,” says Wei Zhang, PhD, a research investigator in biomedical engineering and the study’s first author. “That would allow us to deliver the dose to the cancer tumor with pinpoint accuracy.”
The new technology can also be easily added to current radiation therapy equipment without changing the current processes that are used by clinicians.
Kyle Cuneo, MD, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at Michigan Medicine said, “In future applications, this technology can be used to personalize and adapt each radiation treatment to assure normal tissues are kept to a safe dose and that the tumor receives the dose intended. This technology would be especially beneficial in situations where the target is adjacent to radiation sensitive organs such as the small bowel or stomach.”
At Atlantis Worldwide, we’re always excited to learn about emerging and new technologies and treatments with medical imaging equipment. If you’re in need of additional medical imaging equipment for your healthcare facility, talk to the experts at Atlantis Worldwide.
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Meet the author: Vikki Harmonay