High-energy ultrasound sharpens view of liver tumors

Jan 07, 2008

A high-energy form of ultrasound imaging developed by researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering produces pictures of liver tumors that are better than those made with traditional ultrasound, according to results of a clinical study.

The study suggests that the imaging method known as Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse (ARFI) ultrasound might offer a new tool for screening patients at increased risk for liver cancers, according to the researchers. They say it might also play a useful role in guiding biopsy procedures and minimally invasive therapies aimed at destroying cancerous tissues found deep in the abdomen.

The researchers reported their findings Jan. 7 in the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health with system support from Siemens Medical Solutions.

First developed six years ago by Duke biomedical engineers Gregg Trahey and Kathy Nightingale, ARFI uses high-energy sound waves to push on tissues like sonic fingers. A tracking beam then captures the movement of the tissue, providing a measure of its elasticity or stiffness.

"To our knowledge, these are the first images of abdominal malignancies in humans that show tissue elasticity," said Trahey, professor of biomedical engineering, radiology and medical physics at Duke. The preliminary findings, which represent the Ph.D. thesis work of Trahey's former graduate student Brian Fahey, have already led Siemens to pursue a product prototype that will combine traditional ultrasound with ARFI, he added.

In general, primary liver cancers are soft while those that have spread from other organs are hard. ARFI may be able to tell the difference between hard and soft tumors, Trahey said. "If borne out in further studies, [that discriminating ability] suggests that ARFI may be useful in guiding treatment decisions."

"All current imaging methods—including CT, MRI and ultrasound—have mediocre performance in the detection of early liver cancers," he added. "There is a potential role for ARFI because it is low cost and can be built on conventional ultrasound machines."

Traditional ultrasound is now the guidance method of choice in many hospitals for procedures targeting the liver, kidneys, pancreas and lymph nodes, Trahey said. Ultrasound has advantages in that it is widely available, low cost and doesn't expose patients to ionizing radiation. However, a significant number of tumors are difficult to see with this method, requiring physicians to resort to alternatives such as CT and MRI, which add to the complexity and cost.

In the new study, the researchers captured ARFI images of 12 tumors in nine patients, including seven liver and two kidney tumors, and compared them to traditional ultrasound. The ARFI pictures showed greater contrast than standard ultrasound, providing clearer definition of the edges of cancerous masses.

Source: Duke University

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

3 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

16 hours ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

16 hours ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

16 hours ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

Oct 24, 2014

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

Oct 24, 2014

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0