Integrated Imaging System Allows Early Tumour Detection

“This is the culmination of five years of work to build a completely new type of imaging system, which integrates magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and near-infrared imaging (NIR)," says Brian Pogue, associate professor of engineering and one of the authors of the study. He explains that because infrared light is sensitive to blood, researchers can locate and quantify regions of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin by sending infrared light through breast tissue with a fibre optic array. This might help detect early tumour growth and characterize the stage of a tumour by learning about its vascular and cellular makeup.

Pogue and his researcher team, consisting of Hanover’s Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth Medical School (DMS), Norris Cotton Cancer Center and the Department of Radiology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC), examined eleven healthy women in their study. According to Pogue, this approach to long-range technology development and collaboration is unique, and Thayer and DMS have a special relationship that allows this to happen easily. The new system was moreover developed in lab space at DHMC through shared research with Dartmouth Medical School.

"The new integrated system allows us to quantify the hemoglobin, water, and scattering values of the tissues with NIR, while using the high resolution of MRI," says Pogue. "For breast imaging, this new system means that we will be able to enhance the information that MRI provides by allowing us to image breast tumours with a completely different mechanism of contrast, namely hemoglobin, oxygen saturation, water, and optical scattering."; Source: Dartmouth College, Hanover/NH