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A probe, not an echo

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering have successfully demonstrated a novel "High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography" (HUTT) system that offers 3D images of soft tissue that are superior to those produced by existing commercial X-ray, ultrasound or MRI units.

Vasilis Marmarelis, a professor of biomedical engineering at the Viterbi School, presented HUTT images of animal organ tissue in San Diego at the 28th International Acoustical Imaging Symposium, held March 20-23.

According to Marmarelis, HUTT offers nearly order-of-magnitude improvement in resolution of structures in soft tissue (i.e., 0.4 mm, compared to 2 mm for the best alternatives). Several other features promise to make the technology a scientific and clinical tool of great power:

*Robust algorithmic tools enable HUTT to differentiate separate types of tissue based on their distinctive "frequency-dependent attenuation" profiles, that should allow clinicians to distinguish malignant lesions from benign growths in a non-invasive and highly reliable manner.

*In addition to improved resolution, the system can locate tissue features with extreme precision in a objective, fixed-coordinate 3D grid, crucial for guiding surgical procedures.

*Scans can be performed in a matter of a few minutes and because they are ultrasonic, they do not use potentially harmful ionizing radiation.

*The system requires a minimum of special pre-scan procedures and appears likely, in clinical use, to be more comfortable for patients than alternatives.

"The HUTT imaging system is a novel and potentially very useful approach to diagnostic ultrasound," said Dr. Phillip W. Ralls, a professor and vice chair in the USC Keck School of Medicine department of radiology. "The potential clinical benefits of the superb images obtained by this completely safe, non-invasive technique are very exciting."

According to Marmarelis,
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Source:University of Southern California


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