New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for personalized medicine

Published on November 27, 2012 at 12:52 AM · No Comments

New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for improved early disease screening, cancer staging, therapeutic assessment, and other aspects of personalized medicine, according to Ge Wang, http://www.imaging.sbes.vt.edu/people/gewang/ director of Virginia Tech's Center for Biomedical Imaging, http://www.imaging.sbes.vt.edu/ in a recent paper that appeared in the refereed journal PLoS One http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0039700.

The integration of multiple major tomographic scanners into a single framework "is a new way of thinking in the biomedical imaging world" and is evolving into a "grand fusion" of many imaging modalities known as "omni-tomography," explained Wang, the lead author of the article. 

Wang has a history of "firsts" in the imaging world, including the first paper on spiral multi-slice/cone-beam CT in 1991, on bioluminescence tomography in 2004, and on interior tomography in 2007.

"The holy grail of biomedical imaging is an integrated system capable of producing tomographic, simultaneous, dynamic observations of highly complex biological phenomena in vivo," Wang said.

Currently, dual-modality imaging such as a positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (PET/MRI) is "a powerful example of the synergy provided" by using the two as a hybrid technology when assessing concerns in oncology and cardiology, Wang said. "There are no longer any lone PET scanners. Today all are coupled with computed tomography (CT) scanners," added Wang.

For the past decade, Wang and his colleagues have investigated approaches to fusing the various scanning techniques.  Recently, they became interested in going beyond the dual-mode imaging, and found that the enabling technology for omni-tomography is "interior tomography" that allows for the integration of multiple major tomographic scanners into one architecture.

He explained that many of the real-world problems in cancer or heart disease are localized or often observed in a relatively small region of interest (ROI) in a human body. In order to obtain a theoretically exact reconstruction of this small area, Wang and others have shown that by using some prior knowledge and common properties on an ROI, they can precisely reconstruct the ROI from data collected with a narrow x-ray beam just covering the ROI

"We call this novel approach `interior tomography'," Wang added. "In our latest work, we elevated interior tomography from its origin in x-ray CT to a general tomographic imaging principle, and demonstrated its validity for different tomographic modalities including single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), MRI, and phase-contrast tomography," Wang said.

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