Doctors have a clearer picture than ever before of how much radiation reaches sensitive tissues during routine X-rays and similar imaging, thanks to sophisticated models of the human body being developed at the University of Florida.
"We're building a rich library of computer simulation tools and 3-D patient models that will make dose estimates much more accurate and patient-specific," said Wesley E. Bolch, Ph.D., a professor in the UF departments of nuclear and radiological engineering and biomedical engineering, and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center.
In the March 5 issue of Physics in Medicine and Biology, Bolch and researchers in his lab discuss how they used three-dimensional microCT imaging to describe cartilage, bone marrow and two types of mineral bone in 20 different skeletal sites from two newborns. It is the second in a series of planned articles that will describe variations in tissue and bone that can affect how much radiation is absorbed by the body.
They discovered that children have a greater percentage of total mineral bone in direct contact with sensitive bone marrow than do adults. This has implications for radiation treatments and types of chemotherapy used to treat cancer patients, especially therapies targeting pediatric bone cancers.
In contrast to existing models, the study also found that a large amount of the electron and beta particle energy once believed to stay contained within the bone marrow of children actually escapes to surrounding tissue, said Deanna Pafundi, PhD, a UF researcher and lead author of the paper, now a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. This finding is being used in existing UF research calculating the impact of radiation to the skeletal surrounding tissues, she said.
Radiation epidemiologists can use the revised model to look back in time, estimating doses of radiation associated with leukemia risk, Bolch said. He pointed to the case of
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University of Florida