08.05.2017 change 08.05.2017

Olsztyn/ Prototype of a hybrid breast cancer diagnostic tool has been developed

Innovative ultrasound scanner, which combines the diagnostic capabilities of mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, is being implemented by one of the Olsztyn companies. According to the designers, the ultrasound scanner enables fast and cheap screening.

Improved detection of breast cancer requires new, better imaging methods - emphasize the creators of ultrasound breast tomography - a modern hybrid method that combines the diagnostic capabilities of MMG, ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Research and development related to hybrid ultrasonic tomography for breast diagnostics is carried out by a team of scientists from the Faculty of Electronics of Wrocław University of Technology, led by Prof. Krzysztof Opieliński - and the company Dramiński S.A. Medical in vivo tests of the device in women with breast cancer lesions are conducted by a team of doctors led by Prof. Marcin Jóźwik from the Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

"Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and every new device that improves the detection of breast cancer contributes to saving people. Ultrasound tomography has a chance to become a new tool that helps detect breast cancer more effectively, and perhaps even a new diagnostic standard for this cancer. The new scanner combines many benefits of the existing methods and removes some of the limitations. Unlike mammography, when the ultrasound tomography is performed, the breast is not pressed or exposed to x-rays. The resulting images are three-dimensional, as in computer tomography, but without the use of harmful radiation" - explained Prof. Jóźwik.

"The hybrid ultrasonic scanner scans the entire breast with ultrasound waves with length of about 2 MHz from many directions around and at multiple levels, and then processes the acquired data and reconstructs the images of any of its cross-sections" told PAP Andrzej Wiktorowicz from Dramiński S.A.

He explained that the device enables the reconstruction of two or three-dimensional ultrasonic images of any cross-section of the entire breast structure in four complementary configurations: ultrasound transmission tomography image of distribution of the ultrasound velocity (UTTc), ultrasound transmission tomography image of the distribution of attenuation coefficient (UTTa), ultrasound reflection tomography (URT) and standard ultrasonography (USG) with high-speed whole-angle scanning of the breast.

Simultaneous acquisition of breast tissue images with a variety of parameters enables early detection of breast cancer as well as evaluation of the risk of malignancy" - emphasised Andrzej Wiktorowicz.

Preliminary research proves that the results of the application of new technology are at least comparable to traditional diagnostic methods. "After the completion of construction work by teams of engineers from Dramiński and Wroclaw University of Technology, we have a device that can be used to carry out new breast examination in women. The ongoing work by acoustics and medical team focuses on software improvement - special computational algorithms that allow to select suspicious images from data obtained during breast measurements" - noted Prof. Jóźwik.

Breast hybrid ultrasound tomography is painless, non-invasive and completely safe, so it can be performed repeatedly without risk to the patient.

During the examination, the patient lies on her stomach with her breast immersed in a tank filled with distilled water. 1024 miniature piezoceramic transducers mounted on the inner side of a 260 mm diameter ring (the so-called annular array ultrasound scan head) process the electrical pulses into ultrasound pulses, which are short, repetitive, high frequency and low amplitude mechanical vibrations. Thanks to them, the interior of the breast is detailed in layers in two- and three-dimensional images. Examination of the whole breast takes about 3-5 minutes.

Andrzej Wiktorowicz emphasized that the introduction of the device to the market is planned for the end of 2018.

Innovative work on the implementation of the hybrid ultrasound tomography scanner has been co-funded by the National Centre for Research and Development, which subsidized with a grant worth 6.9 million zlotys. According to the National Centre for Research and Development, it was support for entrepreneurs distributed in the competition "Industrial Research and Development carried out by enterprises", Smart Growth Operational Programme.

This is one of the key National Centre for Research and Development programs for entrepreneurs. Its innovative formula - limiting the formalities to the minimum, call for proposals in stages, and short decision time (60 days) - is very attractive for businesses. Grants for the implementation of Research and Development projects by entrepreneurs are awarded by the National Centre for Research and Development in a competition, based on the evaluation of experts - explained the National Centre for Research and Development press office.

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