Breakthrough Technology In Breast Cancer Screening With Low Dose Radiation

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Researchers from European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, The Ludwig Maximilian’s University in Munich and the University of California at Los Angeles announced a new method of three-dimensional breast imaging technique with a radiation dose 25 times lower (4% of standard computed tomography dosage) than conventional 3D mammograms. This study was reported in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences on October 22. 

Conventional 3D mammograms are not preferred clinically as it requires larger dose of radiation which might damage the sensitive tissue of breast in the process. This advanced imaging technology is achieved by combining phase contrast imaging with equally sloping tomography (EST) reconstruction method. Phase contrast X-ray tomography measures the changes in the oscillations of X-rays through normal tissue and tumour cells. The difference in the oscillations is used in obtaining complete 3D image. X-ray oscillations in very small tumour cells can also be clearly measured though they might not absorb many radiations. Equally sloping tomography takes images at irregular angles, unlike in conventional mammograms, reconstructs a complete 3D image using a mathematical algorithm.

Both phase contrast imaging and equally sloping tomography contribute to the substantial reduction in X-ray radiation dosage while providing the higher quality 3D images than traditional methods. Images obtained are many folds sharper, which helps in more accurate and early diagnosis.

This breakthrough technology is not yet clinically available as it requires high quality X-ray source. Once these limitations are cleared, it is expected to give impressive results.

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