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NIH Grant Supports Light, Ultrasound Combination in Breast Imaging

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Portable system, called dual scan mammoscope, under development at SUNY Buffalo

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National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to SUNY Buffalo is supporting the college’s development of a portable breast imaging device called a dual scan mammoscope (DSM). By pairing light with ultrasound technology, the imaging system delivers effective screening for patients with dense breast tissue — nearly half of women.

The DSM uses a laser to illuminate breast tissue; in its current state of development, the laser is a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser with a 1064-nm output and a 10-ns pulse width. Ultrasound technology then measures the acoustic waves that are generated in the laser-illumination portion of the screening process. The DSM features two, simultaneous scans: one commencing from the bottom of the breast, and one from the top.

“The YAG laser is very robust and relatively compact compared with wavelength tunable lasers,” said Jun Xia, a SUNY Buffalo researcher and lead investigator in the study corresponding to the DSM’s advancement.

“1064 nm is one of the harmonic output(s) of Nd:YAG, meaning high output efficiency. More importantly, 1064 nm is within the tissue’s optical window for deep penetration depth,” Xia said.

The device and the scans it performs incorporate neither radiation nor heavy compression. This differentiates it from a conventional mammogram, which is a less effective test for patients with dense breast tissue, exhibiting accuracy rates as low as 63% in those patients, Xia said.

Breasts of patients with high breast density contain greater amounts of glandular and connective tissue as compared to fat. Those patients face double the risk of breast cancer compared to patients with mostly fatty breast tissue.

Supported by the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, SUNY Buffalo will advance its technology to improve both the breast coverage its device can achieve and the screening capabilities of tissue located closer to the chest wall. It will also enhance ultrasound capability and develop ultrasound elastography. Investigators at the college will finally develop an algorithm to display 3D images that can be easily read and evaluated by radiologists.

Previous studies revealed the DSM’s ability to use photoacoustic technology to image a full 7 cm of tissue, and researchers performed scans of multiple different breast sizes. The team aims to increase its coverage area to more than 9 cm, Xia said.

Future collaborations will examine the photoacoustic and ultrasonic characteristics of breast cancer, ultimately improving the quality of images the DSM produces.

Nov/Dec 2020
BusinesseducationfundingAmericasimaginglaserslasers medicalBiophotonicsmedicineNIHNIBIBmammoscopeultrasound3D imagingbreast tissuebreast tissue scanningbreast cancerState University of New York BuffaloNd: YAG laserNd: YAGNd:YAGNd:YAG laserRapidScan

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