April 27, 2005
USC Scientists Develop HUTT 3-D Ultrasound Imaging Scanner
Why get a CAT scan when you can get a HUTT scan instead?
Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have successfully demonstrated a novel “High-resolution Ultrasonic Transmission Tomography” (HUTT) system that offers 3-D images of soft tissue that are superior to those produced by existing commercial X-ray, ultrasound or MRI units.
Vasilis Marmarelis, professor of biomedical engineering in the USC Viterbi School, presented HUTT images of animal organ tissue at the 28th International Acoustical Imaging Symposium recently held in San Diego.
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).
HUTT supplies high resolution images while simultaneously avoiding the use of ionizing radiation
• 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 an objective, fixed-coordinate 3-D 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.
While conventional ultrasound works by recording echoes that bounce back from tissues HUTT works by recording the sound that passes all the way through tissue. Since 2000 times more sound passes through than echoes the amount of sound signal that can be recorded using HUTT is much greater.
HUTT also allows very selective scanning for details of specific tissue types.
The technology could also be used to isolate one type of tissue, allowing, for example, all the blood vessel structures to be displayed alone and studied.
Medical imaging technology keeps getting better.
Doctors have been discouraging full-body scans, worried that patients would undergo unnecessary surgery to remove or investigate things that turned out to be benign, and would expose themselves to more radiation than necessary. (And, of course, because patients would fail to visit the doctor and give them money whenever they wanted screening done...)
Now there's no worries about radiation, and no need to undergo possibly procedures if something is found - you can be scanned over and over again with impunity to watch anything that look suspicious and compare snapshots over time of its size and shape.
Of course doctors and policymakers will still bitch, because it just isn't right for the peons to monitor or treat anything without the intervention of an M.D...
This is a great tool I had forseen. However, bear in mind that the problem as always is the interpretation of the results. The best machine is useless if there is nobody that can read the images produced. And if too many images of too many people who want to know if they ar healthy are produced who is going to do the screening and risk benig sued for misdiagnosing? This is the real issue. Can you imagine full-body scanning 300 milion americans and asking a few thousand dedicated MDs (not easy to find) to look at the scans? Organ after organ? With the individual variabilities? NOT KNOWING WHAT TO LOOK FOR? Can you guess what the error rate will be (I estimate 20%)? The lawsuits (becuase in this world everybody is allowed to make mistakes except MDs)? It's going to be a lawyer bonanza.
If the machines were available to the general consumer market, they would rapidly improve to the point that individuals would be able to compare images over time and read them well enough to know whether or not to consult a doctor for further evaluation.
Since the human body has a relatively standard configuration (as opposed to what might be in 300 million independently packed suitcases) this technology will lead to vast improvements in visual recognition/diagnostic software. Efforts to develop software to automatically detect and suggest the character of anomalies in breast tissues has been ongoing for quite some time. Search Google for "computer aided diagnosis" AND "breast cancer" as a starting point.
Also, it will be reasonably simple to create software to extract and display changes from one scan to another.
I've actually know relatives of someone who died in the old school cat scan machine.
(from chocking on their own vomit)
I hope this works out - then I can add it to my list of things that make me feel like I'm in the 21st century.
2) Hands Free bathrooms
3) WiFi Devices (phones/computers)
4) HUTT 3-D Ultrasound Imaging Scanner
What is the contrast resolution (mm at 0.5% tissue difference?)I realize that you have advertised 0.4 mm. But is this the truth?
Thanks and keep up the great work
Hold on for just a little. Although up to now, no discernable harm has been shown to be caused by sonography, there are known bioeffects which can be caused by the use of ultrasound. I'm just trying to imagine a machine sending sound waves through bone and gas. I've been performing sonograms for the last twenty five years. I have yet to "see" a sound wave create an image, having passed through bone or gas. I would like to know how this is achieved.