X-ray technique enables early detection of pulmonary disease

A team of scientists from Germany has developed an X-ray technology that will allow physicians to make earlier diagnoses of pulmonary disease.

The problem with severe lung disease such as emphysema is that the difference between healthy and unhealthy tissue during the early stages of the disease is hard to detect using standard X-ray.

In an article published online Oct. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers described a technique that involved the use of conventional X-ray images along with an analysis of radiation scattered by the lung tissue in mouse models in order to calculate detailed images of the lung.

According to an announcement from the Technische Universität München, with these images, physicians can see if a patient is diseased, as well as what parts and how much of the lung are affected.

"Especially in early stages of the disease, identification, precise quantification and localization of emphysema through the new technology would be very helpful", Maximilian Reiser, head of the Institute for Clinical Radiology at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, said in a statement. "We hope that one day this technology will improve COPD diagnosis and therapy, while avoiding the higher radiation exposure associated with high-resolution CT."

For the experiment, researchers used a laser-driven compact synchrotron light source. According to TUM, the Center for Advanced Laser Applications now is working on developing new laser-driven X-ray sources, while another research group from TUM works on improving the X-ray scattering analysis so that the technique can be used with conventional X-ray machines.

For more:
- see the PNAS article
- read the announcement from TUM

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