Novel device allows 3-D imaging of breast with less radiation

New York: Researchers have found a new device that allows for 3-D molecular breast images at higher resolution than current 2-D scans while cutting down the radiation dosages. The new device called variable angle slant hole collimator or VASH collimator replaces a component in existing molecular breast imagers. The findings showed that the VASH collimator may enable existing breast cancer imagers to provide up to six times better contrast of tumours in the breast while maintaining the same or better image quality. Further, the device will also present the precise location (depth information) of the tumour within the breast and significantly reduce the amount of radiation dose to the patient for these procedures. "These results really focus on the breast. We hope to build on this to perhaps improve the imaging of other organs," said Drew Weisenberger, from Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) -- a US based research group. Used in conjunction with mammography, imaging based on nuclear medicine is currently being used as a successful secondary screening alongside mammography to reduce the number of false positive results in women with dense breasts and at higher risk for developing breast cancer, the researchers said. The VASH collimator is constructed from a stack of 49 tungsten sheets, each one a quarter of a millimeter thick and containing an identical array of square holes.  The sheets are stacked like a deck of cards, with angled edges on two sides.  Two small motors that slide the individual sheets by their edges can easily slant the angle of the array of square holes in the stack.  Thus, the collimator can be focussed in varying angles during the imaging procedure. "Now, you can get a whole range of angles of projections of the breast without moving the breast or moving the imager. You are able to come in real close to the breast and can get a one-to-one comparison to a 3D mammogram," Weisenbeger explained. The results were presented at the 2016 Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Annual Meeting in San Diego recently.