Researchers at Tohoku University have developed a new method of adapting X-ray to image soft tissue, “so that its higher resolution can reveal tumors or other problems earlier than other techniques,” reports New Atlas. From the report: Elastography is a field of medical imaging that focuses on the stiffness or softness of tissues. Shear waves are sent through the body, and then an imaging technology like ultrasound or MRI is used to watch how they spread. The waves move through stiff tissue faster than they do through soft tissue, and since tumors, lesions and hardened arteries are all stiffer than surrounding tissue, the technique can highlight these signs of disease. X-rays usually work on a different mechanism, but recent research has suggested that they could be applied to elastography too. And if they were, the resulting images would be much higher resolution, able to spot things on the scale of microns instead of millimeters.
And now, X-ray elastography has moved from principle to practice. The Tohoku team has taken the first images using the technique, and shown that it is able to identify the stiffness of different materials. The researchers imaged a polyacrylamide gel, with some samples containing harder particles of zirconium dioxide. Vibrations were then sent through these samples while X-ray images were taken. And sure enough, the X-ray elastography method was able to spot these tiny intruders. After showing that the concept does work, the researchers say that the next steps are to create 3D images, and eventually develop x-ray elastography equipment for medical diagnoses. The research was published in the journal Applied Physics Express.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.