X-RAYS REACH NEW DI­MEN­SIONS

Focus-Science and Technology - - INNOVATIONS -

MARS Bioimag­ing Ltd has re­vealed a firstof-its-kind X-ray scan­ner that cre­ates 3D colour im­ages of mus­cle, fat and skin, as well as the usual in­for­ma­tion about bone.

Nor­mal X-rays pass through soft struc­tures and are ab­sorbed by bone, with im­ages then cre­ated based on lev­els of ab­sorp­tion. This new scan­ner records the pre­cise en­ergy lev­els of the X-rays as they hit each par­ti­cle in the sec­tion of the body that’s be­ing scanned. Those mea­sure­ments are then trans­lated into dif­fer­ent colours, pre­sent­ing a re­al­is­tic-look­ing im­age that dif­fer­en­ti­ates be­tween com­po­nents like fat, water, mus­cle and bone.

While tra­di­tional X-rays are usu­ally suf­fi­cient for pick­ing up frac­tures, they re­veal very lit­tle about the sur­round­ing struc­tures. A small ver­sion of the MARS scan­ner has al­ready been used to study can­cer, vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and bone and joint health, with promis­ing early re­sults. In the com­ing months, the scan­ner will be used in a clin­i­cal trial on or­thopaedic and rheuma­tol­ogy pa­tients in New Zealand, where MARS Bioimag­ing is based.

The MediPix3 pixel-de­tec­tor tech­nol­ogy in­volved was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped at CERN for par­ti­cle track­ing in the Large Hadron Col­lider, and has since been mod­i­fied by MARS for med­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions.

X-ray im­ages will soon be more de­tailed than ever be­fore. From top to bot­tom: wrist; left view of an­kle; right view of an­kle

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