Bringing 3D phase contrast x-ray imaging to medicine
GratXray is developing and marketing a grating interferometry based phase contrast computed tomography system to enhance imaging quality in mammography and to provide a painless and low dose breast imaging method for women. The new technology significantly improves patient comfort by removing the need of breast compression. It allows 3D scanning of the breast in its natural state.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and, by far, the most frequent cancer among women. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported an estimated 1.67 million new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 (25% of all cancers). An early detection is essential to improve prognosis and to reduce the mortality rate. For this reason, it is essential to have an efficient and precise breast cancer imaging method.
The state of the art diagnosis tools are mammography systems, which provide 2D images only. With these systems, the false positive rate is very large, which causes a high psychological stress to the affected patients. Furthermore, the breast has to be compressed, and women have difficulty with the procedure due to the pain and discomfort. New tomosynthesis systems improve diagnosis through modeled 3D images. MRI is frequently used to further examine critical cases, however, it is an expensive technique and not suited for screening. Thus, there is no ideal breast screening method that provides high-resolution and tissue discriminating 3D images. Breast radiologists worldwide call for significantly enhanced tissue sensitivity and specificity under dose control.
GratXray’s unique grating interferometry breast computed tomography (GI-BCT) system is the answer to this call. This technology fully exploits the complex interactions of X-rays with matter by acquiring simultaneously absorption, refraction and scatter images without increasing radiation dose. The refraction image has a very high contrast for soft tissues, yielding unprecedented fine tissue identification and delineation (Fig 1). Combining absorption with scatter images allows for discrimination of different tissue types, based on their internal microstructure (Fig 2). With this unique, true volumetric 3D imaging capability, GratXray will improve breast tumor detection and significantly reduce false positives. Further, it will massively improve patient comfort by removing the need of breast compression, as the latter will be scanned in its natural state. This will further simplify the biopsy procedure and improve its accuracy.
|Fig. 1: Improved tissue delineation thanks to gratings-based X-ray imaging (right) compared to conventional mammography (left) at same dose.||Fig. 2: Tissue discrimination. Malignant (red) and benign (green) calcifications.|
Grating interferometry breast computed-tomography (GI-BCT) improves patient comfort, image quality and thus diagnostic power. The advantages of this new technology are summarized in Fig. 3.
|Fig. 3: GI-BCT compared to current mammography imaging methods.|