12 Feb

Terahertz medical imaging – a major impact on healthcare

Terahertz Medical Imaging
New methods have been developed for a wide range of medical markets. The new technology makes use of electromagnetic radiation at terahertz frequencies.

Terahertz pulsed imaging, also referred to as TPI TM, can recognise spectral fingerprints, meaning it has the potential to provide good contrast between different types of soft tissue. It can detect the degree of water content as well as other makers of cancer.

The system was developed to image basal cell cancer, a common form of skin cancer which is invisible to the naked eye.

Terahertz Imaging Modules
Modules such as the TPI imaga 2000 have 3D – 360° volumetric imaging of intact tablet coatings and cores. It has the ability to determine the thickness, uniformity, distribution and coverage of simple and complex coatings. TPI imaga and many other modules have been used to study a wide variety of biological materials.

TPI imaging is a non-ionizing, non-destructive technique. It has recently been used in reflection geometry to uncover and categorise the terahertz properties of several organ samples freshly harvested from laboratory rats. In a short time frame, scientists were able to discover a range of differences between tissue types. The results concluded that TPI imaging modules can effectively differentiate between tissue types, non-invasively.

Reflectance imaging modules have the ability to convert other modules, such as the TPS Spectra 3000, into flat bed imaging systems. Samples are placed on the unit and raster scanned using a unique, software controlled, motorised scanning table. Using other specialist imaging and data analysis software, thickness maps can be generated through collected data. This allows medical experts to detect physical features, including buried cracks, defects and air pockets.

Terahertz Cancer Imaging
The primary purpose of Terahertz medical applications is cancer imaging. The modules can reveal a contrast between regions of healthy skin cells and basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.

Recent results have shown that TPI technology can reliably distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells in excised tissue.

Terahertz medical applications have also been used for breast cancer imaging. Using light waves in a newly explored region of the electromagnetic spectrum, terahertz modules can examine breast tissue and determine whether or not removed margins are clear of cancer.

As well as being reliable and effective, terahertz medical imaging is much quicker compared to current examinations. Histopathologic examinations can take several days, leaving the surgeon unaware whether or not the tumour has been removed until well after the surgery is completed. With terahertz applications, the surgeon can analyse the tissue samples during the initial procedure.

Terahertz Imaging of Teeth
Dentists can also use terahertz imaging. Terahertz rays offer a safer alternative to X-rays for testing teeth. Unlike X-rays, terahertz analysis reveals three-dimensional shapes by measuring how the waves are affected by the structure of the target. As they are non-ionising, terahertz rays are also thought to be safer than X-rays.

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