Nav: Home

New X-ray technology could revolutionize how doctors identify abnormalities

November 07, 2019

Using ground-breaking technology, researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and University of Baltimore (UMB) are testing a new method of X-ray imaging that uses color to identify microfractures in bones. Microfractures were previously impossible to see using standard X-ray imaging. The findings associated with this advancement in color (spectral) CT (computed tomography) imaging are published in Advanced Functional Materials.

Since the discovery of X-rays in 1895, the basics of the technology have remained consistent. Doctors and scientists use them to see dense materials, like bones, but the technology's capabilities have been limited. Dipanjan Pan, professor of chemical, biochemical and environmental engineering UMBC, and professor of radiology at UMB, is the corresponding author of this new study. Looking ahead to the next generation of X-ray technology, he asks, "How can we detect a bone microcrack, something that is not visible using X-ray imaging?"

Pan explains that to examine this question, his lab developed nanoparticles that navigate and attach specifically to areas where microcracks exist. He likes to call them "GPS particles." They started conducting this research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The researchers have programmed the particles to latch onto the correct area of the microcrack. Once the particles attach to microcracks, they remain there, which is crucial to the imaging process.

The particles contain the element hafnium. A new X-ray-based technique developed by a New Zealand-based company MARS then take CT images of the body and the hafnium particles appear in color. This provides a very clear image of where the bone microcracks are located.

Hafnium is used because its composition makes it detectable to X-rays, generating a signal that can then be used to image the cracks. Pan's lab showed that hafnium is stable enough to be used in testing involving living creatures, and can be excreted safely from the body. The lab has not yet begun testing on humans, but the technology to do so may be available as soon as 2020.

As for other applications for spectral CT imaging with this hafnium breakthrough, the research suggests that this methodology could be used to detect much more serious problems. For example, in order to determine whether a person has a blockage in their heart, doctors often will perform a stress test to detect abnormalities, which comes with a significant amount of risk. One day in the near future, doctors may be able to use spectral CT to determine whether there is a blockage in organs.

"Regular CT does not have a soft-tissue contrast. It cannot tell you where your blood vessels are. Spectral CT can help solve that problem," Pan explains. He notes that although more research is needed to begin using spectral CT in this way, he anticipates that it will be a "tremendous" new tool for radiologists. Dr. Fatemeh Ostadhossein, a recent graduate of the Pan lab, was first author on this study.
-end-


University of Maryland Baltimore County

Related Technology Articles:

April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.
Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.
Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.
Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.
The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).
AI technology could help protect water supplies
Progress on new artificial intelligence (AI) technology could make monitoring at water treatment plants cheaper and easier and help safeguard public health.
Transformative technology
UC Davis neuroscientists have developed fluorescence sensors that are opening a new era for the optical recording of dopamine activity in the living brain.
Do the elderly want technology to help them take their medication?
Over 65s say they would find technology to help them take their medications helpful, but need the technology to be familiar, accessible and easy to use, according to research by Queen Mary University of London and University of Cambridge.
Technology detecting RNase activity
A KAIST research team of Professor Hyun Gyu Park at Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering developed a new technology to detect the activity of RNase H, a RNA degrading enzyme.
Taking technology to the next level
Physicists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS) developed a new hybrid integrated platform, promising to be a more advanced alternative to conventional integrated circuits.
More Technology News and Technology Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.