Ultrasound Developed to Help Fight Cancer

blood vessel ultrasoundCancer affects an astonishing 40% of people according to Macmillan Cancer Support, as such there are few people that have not either been affected by it or had someone close to them affected. Research from the University of North Carolina has developed a new technique shown to aid in early detection of cancer utilizing ultrasonic waves. This adds another string to the bow of ultrasound technicians and will further help grow the industry as a whole in the years to come, which can only be good news for those wishing to provide quality patient care.

Throughout a person’s body their blood vessels snake through them in a manner that from a distance resembles the twists and turns of a river looked at from above. It has been discovered however that this blood vessel tortuosity or “bendiness” can actually be a sign of the presence and progression of cancer in a patient.

What the researcher’s at UNC have developed is a method of high-resolution ultrasound imaging that can map out these inner blood vessels and then ultrasound technicians can detect blood vessel abnormality from the resulting pictures; this technique has been used in order to identify early tumors in preclinical studies. Although still early days for the research this is an exciting proposition due to the non-invasive nature of it, while being potentially accurate enough to detect tumors less than a centimeter in size. Given that early detection of cancer carries such benefits with regards to how beneficial treatment is, this research could potentially save thousands of lives.

Paul Dayton, PhD, associate professor of biomedical engineering and part of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center further supports this idea by saying, “The correlation between vessel tortuosity and cancer is well-established. What’s new about our finding is that we can visualize these vessels in minutes with a very quick scan, using very inexpensive imaging methods.”

This new high quality ultrasound imaging has been termed “acoustic angiography”; it utilizes an intravascular contrast agent that enables the technicians to create sonograms of only the blood vessels. Unlike the more regularly used 2D ultrasound frequently used in obstetrics to detect fetal growth, this ultrasound manages to filter out any data that represents tissue thus enabling them to view the inner blood vessels clearly.

Dayton goes onto say “Our results showed a definitive difference between vessels within and surrounding tumors versus those associated with normal healthy vasculature. The limitation that we must now address is that our method works only for tumors at a shallow depth into tissue, such as melanomas or thyroid cancer. Our next studies will focus on this imaging-depth issue as well as evaluating the ability of this technology to determine a tumor’s response to therapy.”

“We know from several clinical and preclinical MRI studies at UNC by Elizabeth Bullitt, MD, and others, and at other institutions that vessels can unbend, or “normalize,” in response to effective therapy. We need to see if our inexpensive ultrasound-based method of blood vessel visualization and tortuosity analysis can detect this normalization prior to conventional assessments of tumor response to therapy, such as measurements of tumor size.”

This is clearly a great step forward in the war against cancer, it is rare that such potential detection methods are produced that are not only fast and non-invasive, but also require no exposure to radiation and are therefore safe for everyone.

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Source : www.medindia.net


Ultrasound Treatment for Osteoporosis Discovered

Ultrasound Research

Dr. Yi-Xian Qin, and Department of Biomedical Engineering graduate student, Jordan Rustad, look at evidence of changes in bone-forming cells as a result of exposure to ultrasound.

At Stony Brook University in New York research is being led by Yi-Xian Qin, PhD and Professor into a potentially revolutionary new treatment for osteoporosis, fractures and other related issues that involve bone loss. Currently the only treatments for these issues either involve waiting for the patient’s body to heal naturally, or using pharmacological drug treatments to help ease the problem. This could all change now that they have evidence suggesting that medium-density focused ultrasound can have beneficial effects in this area, potentially being one of the biggest developments in the area since 3D ultrasound.

The technique revolves around focusing these ultrasonic waves on osteoblasts, these are more commonly known as bone-forming cells. When these osteoblasts are stimulated with ultrasound they consistently experience increase mobility and triggers the release of calcium which in turn promotes growth.

Stony Brook University states that musculoskeletal tissues, like bone and muscle, respond to significant stimuli such as exercise. This is to maintain the tissues natural state of dynamic equilibrium in response to mechanical loading. Realizing this opportunity the researchers decided to test how osteoblasts would respond to other mechanical signals such as ultrasound. The research team developed a new innovative method to apply the ultrasound which they call acoustic radiation force (ARF); they expose the osteoblasts to one minute of this radiation and then try to observe any reaction. What they repeatedly found was that through the use of the ARF focused ultrasound beam they had induced cellular cytoskeletal rearrangement, the motility and mobility of the cells, and accelerated intracellular calcium transportations and concentrations.

This is an exciting development in the field due to the comparative nature of the treatment; the opportunity to develop a none invasive and drug free ultrasonic procedure which has the potential to cause little to no side effects has obvious advantages, as this is something that even the mildest drug can sometimes have problems with.

Dr. Qin is also involved with other research projects, previous findings of his has led to the creation of an ultrasound machine designed to specifically scan bones and is far more advanced than the current ultrasound technology in the area as it assesses bone parameters beyond simple mineral density. This machine was initially invented to act as a diagnostic tool to help predict early bone loss, with the discovery of the effects of ARF, they are now looking to combine the two technologies in order to build a device that can first predict and identify bone loss or fractures, and then provide ARF treatment to the affected area in order to promote growth and healing.

The more that scientists study ultrasound the more benefits and uses for it are being discovered. It still amazes me personally that simple sound waves can have such an effect on us as people, especially when it is normally thought of as a method of seeing, not healing. It is studies such as this that go to show what a bright future ultrasound has in our world and the exciting times that people who enter the industry will experience.

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Source: Stony Brook University

Dr Who the Ultrasound Technician

dr who sonic screwdriverAt least that is what scientists are beginning to suggest with some of their latest inventions. Many people across the world have wished for Sci-Fi technology to become a reality, lightsabers, hover boots maybe even a sonic screwdriver. The last item on the list is seemingly one step closer to reality thanks to researchers at Dundee University. In our previous articles we have noted that the area of ultrasound is one of the fastest growing in the world as more people not only realize the potential currently, but also understand the advancements in the area that can be made.

First announced in a press release it may be a bit of poetic license to try and call it a sonic screwdriver, however the potential for this technology is just as exciting and does provide evidence for the future creation of such a device even though this is currently just in the prototype design stages. The basic equipment came from a MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery machine and was repurposed so it can lift and spin a free floating 10 cm diameter rubber disk with a focused ultrasound beam.

While this may not seem at first glance to be that useful there is a reason why this research is generating such excitement among the ultrasound community. Dr Mike MacDonald, of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT) at Dundee explains

“This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells,”

From my point of view it is the last part of this quote which holds most significance, imagine being able to control an object inside a person’s body and the possible applications ultrasound technicians could use this for. Send a drug directly through a person’s body laser targeted right to where it can be of the most benefit or perhaps even sending small cameras through a patient’s body to aid diagnosis without needing exploratory surgery.

When I first heard about this story I assumed they used the ultrasound based on a similar principle to that of 3D ultrasound albeit amplified in strength. However the ultrasound is actually focused into a beam utilizing a ‘double-helix’ structure which is the 2 bar twisting structure of our DNA. They have also demonstrated that by twisting many of these double-helix beams into 1 singular focused beam it has enough power behind it to lift and spin a 90g disk which had been placed in water (video below).

It’s worth remembering that this is a large scale demonstration model and that any finished medical product would be far more refined in its control. As Dr MacDonald says “Like Dr Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around. It is an area that has great potential for developing new surgical techniques, among other applications, something which Dundee is very much at the forefront of.”

This technology was developed as part of a UK-wide Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project as well as being funded through part of an EU Nanoporation project. Here at modern ultrasound technician we are interested in what our readers think, do you think research such as this is as important as we do? Do you believe that this technology could have entertainment or commercial uses besides its perceived medical applications? Perhaps this could be used to give us our much loved hover boards or bring to life the next generation of thrill seeking rollercoaster rides? If you have other ideas let us know in the comments below!

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Source: FutureofTech.msn

Ultrasound News, Website updates and more

New Ultrasound Detects Heart Problems in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

echocardiogramRecent studies have shown that a new type of ultrasound called “speckle-tracking echocardiography” can detect potentially fatal heart abnormalities in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

During a meeting in Berlin the researchers from the Mayo Clinic, USA proposed that their technique of speckle-tracking echocardiography shows itself to be a promising method of screening rheumatoid arthritis patients for cardiovascular disease. Allegedly the current tools used to screen patients underestimate the risk they face and so these new more accurate methods could provide real measurable benefits for patient care.

Studies in this area can be particularly tricky to research, Dr Gabriel when talking about their investigation said

“”The challenge that we’ve had in our studies, and other people have had as well, is identifying patients with rheumatoid arthritis early enough so that we can intervene, before the symptoms become clinically apparent.”

Here at modern ultrasound technician we love nothing more than a new research paper or procedure to get our teeth stuck into. While this technique is still in its infancy stages, the research does show promise in the future for a more accurate and effective method of risk assessment for patients in the future, and in our eyes this is one step on the right path for better patient care in the future.

Source: Medical News Today

One-Way Acoustic Diode Paves Way to Higher Quality Ultrasound Imaging

One Way Acoustic Diode

Diagram demonstrating the input/output of the diode.

Over the years ultrasound has come on leaps and bounds in terms of quality of pictures, and technological advancements such as 3D and 4D ultrasound. While ultrasound can provide massive advantages due to it using harmless sound waves instead of the more radioactive materials, it also has weaknesses due to the same reasons.

As anyone who has ever shouted in a large room knows, echoes can produce anomalous readings and interference. While ultrasound relies on these ultrasonic echoes to produce a sonogram the incoming echoes can produce interference with the outgoing sound waves and therefor lower image brightness and resolution. If a method could be found to keep these incoming and outgoing sounds separate, it would help greatly improve the quality of an ultrasound picture.

Scientist Jian-chun Cheng of China’s Nanjing University described at the Acoustics 2012 meeting in Hong Kong the advancements in this area his team have been making. They have created what they call a one way acoustic diode that works similarly to an electric diode. An electric diode works by providing zero resistance to the electric current in one direction, with very high resistance in the other direction, this produces a unidirectional electrical flow and helps protect against sudden damaging reverses in flow.

While an ultrasound diode cannot work off a similar principle, sound has the same resistance traveling both too and from a source, the effect is the same. The acoustic diode works by increasing the frequency of sound entering the diode in a certain direction, then putting a material in the way that only allows sound through of a high enough frequency. This allows the higher frequency sound to pass through, while any returning sound which has lowered in frequency cannot pass through the filter material.

As Liang explains “if the sound comes from the side of the nonlinear material, it will hit that material first, creating doubled frequency sound that passes through the filter, while any sound coming from the other side at the original frequency is blocked before it reaches the doubling layer.”

This truly is an innovative approach to the problem, while many people can get stuck in the details of a problem, it is the simple outside of the box developments like this that are providing real noticeable change in the ultrasound industry and providing the technological advancement our health care system, and patients deserve.

Source: Science Daily

Pregnant Panda Undergoes Ultrasound Scan

PandaNo news roundup would be complete without a true “aw” story and we would not let our readers down in such a way. More than 10 pandas are currently undergoing ultrasound at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Centre in southwest China.

Pandas are notoriously difficult to breed; which, given their endangered species status is of high priority. Female pandas are only fertile for 2-3 days a year, so it was with much joy the Centre reported the 10 successful mating pairs. Pandas are generally pregnant 85-100 days before giving birth and the ultrasound is still being used to check the health of the mothers to be. Unfortunately the ultrasound did find complications with one mother, who is now undergoing further medical treatment.

With only around 1600 giant pandas remaining in the wild, our best wishes go out to the proud panda mums in china. If you’d like to find out more about human development and how we view the different stages through ultrasound, please read our recent article on ultrasound during pregnancy

Source:BBC News

Website Updates

Also as of today, the keener eyed readers (and probably everybody else) will have noticed we have totally altered our website design. The other design was always intended to be a placeholder until we could really get to grips with a makeover we liked.

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