Dec 15, 2011
Innovation: patent applications review
A round-up of the latest international patent applications in medical imaging.
Simple SPECT system promises high-resolution scans
US Medical imaging manufacturer NeuroLogica has published details of a SPECT imaging system that provides high-resolution scanning whilst benefiting from a simplified construction (WO/2011/153544). The instrument comprises: a rotating ring surrounding the anatomy being imaged; at least one camera mount attached to the rotating ring so that it can be moved radially relative to the ring's axis of rotation; and one or more gamma cameras upon the camera mount, focused on a single SPECT focal point. When the ring is rotated and the camera mount is moved radially on the rotating ring, the single SPECT focal point of the multiple gamma cameras follows a spiral pattern through the anatomy, producing a scan.
Dual-modality scanner improves breast cancer diagnosis
A scanning apparatus for imaging the breast using both X-rays and ultrasound is described by CapeRay Medical of South Africa (WO/2011/153555). The filing defines a method for acquiring and co-registering the X-ray and ultrasound images in 3D space, such that: the breast is in the same orientation and degree of compression when the X-ray and ultrasound images are obtained; both sets of images are acquired simultaneously, minimizing the time that the breast is held stationary; automated ultrasound images of the whole breast are acquired in a single scan; both image modalities are acquired in 3D; and radiation dose is minimized. As well as acquiring full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound images using a single device, the system also incorporates an algorithm for performing digital tomosynthesis reconstruction using these images.
Ultrasound transducer delivers photoacoustic imaging
Canadian micro-imaging specialist VisualSonics has developed a photoacoustic scan head for imaging humans or small laboratory animals (WO/2011/137385). The scan head comprises a transducer housing containing an arrayed ultrasound transducer that transmits and/or receives ultrasound waves to and from the target. Optical fibres are integrated into the transducer housing using an optically transparent epoxy or other resin. The light-emitting ends of the fibres are positioned adjacent to the front surface of the transducer and direct laser light onto the target. The generated light beams can be angled to intersect the acoustic field generated by the transducer, thus generating a photoacoustic effect in the region scanned by the transducer.
Microbubbles detect atherosclerotic plaque
Researchers at Imperial Innovations of London, UK, have invented a means of diagnosing an increased risk of a neurovascular event such as a stroke, based on the finding that microbubbles are retained within atherosclerotic plaques (WO/2011/135275). The method involves administering ultrasound contrast microbubbles to the subject. If an atherosclerotic plaque is present, late-phase contrast-enhanced ultrasound is used to detect the signal produced by bubbles retained within the plaque. A higher signal correlates with an increased risk of the subject suffering a neurovascular event.
Motion correction enhances OCT quality
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) images, for example of a human eye, can be impaired by distortions and data gaps due to relative motion between the eye and the image acquisition device. A team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has created methods for correction of such errors (WO/2011/139895). Motion-corrected data are derived by applying 3D transforms to input 3D data sets that represent at least partially overlapping regions of the imaged object. The transforms are computed based on an objective function that accounts for similarity between the transformed data sets and the estimated motion of the object relative to the imaging instrument. These methods are said to eliminate the need for postulated assumptions and reliance on landmarks, and are able to fill data gaps, thereby producing high-quality, undistorted images. Multiple motion-corrected data sets can be merged or combined to produce a data set with improved image quality.
PET detectors offer flexible configuration
Gachon University of Medicine & Science in Korea has designed a PET device that can adapt its detector diameter according to the size of the subject or body part being examined (WO/2011/149181). The instrument includes a body with an opening to receive the subject and a detector ring surrounding the subject. The detector comprises two sets of detection heads, with the first set arranged in the circumferential direction of the opening, and the second inserted between the detection heads of the first group. The detection heads can be moved in a radial direction, enabling the system to easily adapt to either body or brain imaging, for example.
About the author
Tami Freeman is Editor of medicalphysicsweb.