First-ever colour X-ray on a human

July 12, 2018
The CERN technology, dubbed Medipix, works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open

New Zealand scientists have performed the first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human, using a technique that promises to improve the field of medical diagnostics, said Europe's CERN physics lab which contributed imaging technology.

The new device, based on the traditional black-and-white X-ray, incorporates particle-tracking developed for CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle.

"This colour X-ray imaging technique could produce clearer and more accurate pictures and help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses," said a CERN statement.

The CERN technology, dubbed Medipix, works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open.

This allows for high-resolution, high-contrast pictures.

The machine's "small pixels and accurate energy resolution meant that this new imaging tool is able to get that no other imaging tool can achieve," said developer Phil Butler of the University of Canterbury.

According to the CERN, the images very clearly show the difference between bone, muscle and cartilage, but also the position and size of cancerous tumours, for example.

The technology is being commercialised by New Zealand company MARS Bioimaging, linked to the universities of Otago and Canterbury which helped develop it.

Explore further: First human scanned with next-generation 3-D colour medical scanner

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16 comments

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chemhaznet1
5 / 5 (4) Jul 12, 2018
This is so amazing!
Im_Pickle_Rick
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 13, 2018
Meanwhile, christians are still waiting for Jesus to come back from his magical theme park in the clouds.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 13, 2018
I'm not sure what they are doing here. It must be something different than color mapping of various tissues based on their absorption values, because that has been around for a couple of decades now.
(Xray scanners do not give any 'color' information directly...which is pretty obvious because color is an entirely different part of the spectrum from Xrays)
Ojorf
1 / 5 (2) Jul 13, 2018
The CCD (Medipix3) can distinguish between different wavelenghs within the Xray spectrum.
Ojorf
1 / 5 (2) Jul 13, 2018
Oops, wanted to say.

The CMOS (Medipix3) can distinguish changes in the wavelength of the Xrays and differentiate between different substances in the body.
Sounds like the subject is moved past the detector and a video taken, the data is processed and a false colour 3D model rendered.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Jul 13, 2018
Using multiple wavelengths is tricky. If you are using a spectrum of wavelengths then your resolution suffers. Resolution is paramount for diagnostic purposes. Color is really unimportant for the physician.
If we're just dealing with 'making pretty pictures for patient information purposes' then that's no good, because we're buying these pictures at a cost of applying Xray dose to the patient That's a big no-no (increasing risk to the patient without benefit to treatment outcome)

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jul 13, 2018
There's several companies that already have dual wavelength CT on the market. With the ways these are built (with the Xray tubes and detectors at right angles to each other) you don't have a resolution issue because you're not going to the same detector. Two wavelengths also allow you to discern tissue types to a very high degree because different tissue types absorb different wavelengths of Xrays in characteristic ways.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (2) Jul 13, 2018
Yeah, I asked Jesus when he was coming back and he just laid his head down on the bar counter, sobbing. His buddies Mohamed and Buddha tried to console him. Baldr, John Smith and Joan d'Arc just sat back looking relieved that they get to skip this one.

Hopefully, these medical uses for false-color data won't result in the same unfortunate meme that besets astronomy.

The Public, in all their unwashed ignorance, actually believe all those pretty pictures released by astronomers are what is visible. They do not understand the purpose of the photoshopped images is to convey subtle layers of information.

For good and for bad, the astronomers know the Public is paying the bills. And they have to keep them happy even when it feeds their monkey instincts for pretty colors.

The customer is always right! Right?
gculpex
not rated yet Jul 13, 2018
Yeah, I asked Jesus when he was coming back ...
Hopefully, these medical uses for false-color data won't result in the same unfortunate meme that besets astronomy.

The Public, in all their unwashed ignorance, actually believe all those pretty pictures released by astronomers are what is visible. They do not understand the purpose of the photoshopped images is to convey subtle layers of information.

For good and for bad, the astronomers know the Public is paying the bills. And they have to keep them happy even when it feeds their monkey instincts for pretty colors.

The customer is always right! Right?

How did you get to travel to the spirit realm?
Right, ....Right?
howhot3
not rated yet Jul 14, 2018
I hope their product becomes commonplace in the medical world. Anything that reduces exposure time to X-rays is a good thing, and if it has improved resolution, that is even better. As far as the computer graphics go, we've done pixel density mapping to color since 1998 on SGI workstations with VTK volume rendering add-ons! X-rays have no color unless they are somehow doing a broadband X-ray (which would bring up a huge question about health and exposure issues).
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2018
Why gculpex I travel to the realm of spirituous consumption. Favorite hang-out of godlings. Though the cheap bastards never buy a round!

"There I sit,
broken hearted.
Trying to fill
an inside straight?
My money and I,
are soon parted."

The problem with playing poker with deities? By definition, they have no morals or ethics. Might as well be playing with my brothers-in-law!
Old_C_Code
1 / 5 (2) Jul 15, 2018
They didn't reveal how they get color, only that the technique is higher resolution than ordinary x-ray.
howhot3
1 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2018
Usually high resolution X-ray in medical use typically means more exposure. It's been a long time goal to reverse that and create low dosage / high resolution X-ray CTs for a long time. Remember, X-rays typically only interact with the nucleus of the atom or by ionizing the atom's inner electrons. So in biological structures, for them to remain intact, exposures must be minimal.
ellbeeyoo
4 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2018
Why didn't they say what body part is pictured? It looks like the spinal column at about L5/S1, but it would be nice to be sure and it would help some understand the story better.
SCVGoodToGo
1 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2018
Looks like a left ankle to me...
David Rundle
5 / 5 (2) Jul 16, 2018
I am a US collaborator with Mars. The technology uses a Photon Counting detector layer bonded to the CERN Medipix ASIC. The sensor simultaneously places each photon into one of eight different X-ray energies (five are used for image reconstruction). There is no need for multiple energy X-ray beams or multiple detectors.

The images are not the false color of an X-ray intensity / density map. While the "color" is mapped, X-rays do not have visible colors (in the way you and I understand and see them). However, the color does reflect the X-ray spectral "color" of the transmitted photon spectrum, and in the case of human tissue it is convenient to map these to a color scheme we can understand. Another way of saying this is that the scanner produces a 3D image of the materials present in an object (not just human tissue) and then color codes them into the visible range for us to see and interpret.

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