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New diagnostic imaging techniques deemed safe in simulations
Date:6/4/2014

DURHAM, N.C. -- Gamma and neutron imaging offer possible improvements over existing techniques such as X-ray or CT, but their safety is not yet fully understood. Using computer simulations, imaging the liver and breast with gamma or neutron radiation was found to be safe, delivering levels of radiation on par with conventional medical imaging, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

The findings, published in the June issue of the journal Medical Physics, will help researchers to move testing of gamma and neutron imaging into animals and later humans.

Conventional medical imaging tools including X-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI detect disease by finding the anatomy, or shape and size, of the abnormality. When using these tools to screen for cancer, a tumor must be large enough to be detected, and if found, a surgical biopsy is generally required to determine if it is benign or malignant.

Duke researchers are working to develop imaging technologies to detect disease in its earliest stages, much before the tumors grow large enough to be detected using conventional methods. Two imaging techniques they are researching are Neutron Stimulated Emission Computed Tomography and Gamma Stimulated Emission Computed Tomography.

Research has shown that many tumors have an out-of-balance concentration of trace-level elements naturally found in the body, such as aluminum and rubidium. These elements stray from their normal concentration levels at the earliest stages of tumor growth, potentially providing an early signal of disease.

The neutron and gamma imaging methods measure the concentrations of elements in the body, determining molecular properties without the need for a biopsy or injection of contrast media. The goal is for these tests to be able to distinguish between benign and malignant lesions, as well as healthy tissue.

"Gamma and neutron imaging may eventually be able to help us to detect cance
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Contact: Rachel Harrison
rachel.harrison@duke.edu
919-419-5069
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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