Breakthrough in ultrasound imaging can improve image resolution by up to 10x

A new technique developed by a team of researchers at Heriot-Watt University and published in Investigative Radiology has managed to increase the image resolution of ultrasound images of 5-10 times.

The team demonstrated the new technique by detecting prostrate cancer for the first time through mapping the surrounding blood vessels. The first tests have only been conducted on animals, however the goal is to start human trials by December 2019. As this has yet to be tested on humans there may be further complications, however the initial results look exceedingly promising.

The new technique is based on CEUS (Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound) where the blood circulation surrounding the area of interest, usually an organ, is analysed with a high degree of precision. To adequately analyse the blood vessels an intravenous injection of small gas-filled bubbles is made which improves image accuracy. The new method also utilizes algorithms from light microscopy and astronomy to further improve resolution.

This particular type of ultrasound has been researched for more than a decade and works substantially different compared with regular ultrasound.

The hope is that this new imaging technique can help identify cancer in major vital organs earlier, which could lead to improvements in survival rates due to earlier treatments. Furthermore, it may be able to replace some of the older and more costly procedures.

Ultrasound imaging is an indispensable tool in medical diagnosis, primarily due to its cost-effectiveness and unique real-time capability… However, the limitations of current ultrasound images mean more expensive techniques like MRI are often employed for diagnosis and treatment

Dr Vassilis Sboros, Heriot-Watt University