IIT-Madras working on technology to develop ultrasound with highest ever resolution
The new technology would bring down the cost of diagnostic evaluation and treatment in biomedicine
Delhi:Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras are working on a technology to provide the highest ever resolution of Ultrasonic Imaging in what could possibly complement and eventually replace X-ray and computed tomography (CT) systems used in medical diagnostics.
The researchers are the first to have experimentally demonstrated the highest resolution in micrometres for an ultrasound which was in the range of 1/25 of the incident wavelength. The current ultrasonic imaging systems can typically yield resolution of up to 0.5 millimetres.
The research was published in Scientific Reports, a Nature group journal.
At present techniques like X-ray computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and microscopy are used for medical diagnostics as they can yield resolution in the micro to nano-meter range, which is required for imaging of tissue and bone. However, the major drawback is that these systems are expensive and carry a risk of radiation.
Ultrasound imaging (UI), on the other hand, does not involve the risk of radiation. However, the technique is not used much in biomedicine as conventional ultrasound methods offer poor resolution.
“There are several approaches underway to improve resolution of ultrasound, but we have been the first to successfully to demonstrate the proof of concept. Now the aim is to develop this Super Resolution Ultrasonic Imaging (SUI) system for use in medical diagnostics,” said Dr Prabhu Rajagopal from IIT Madras, who is leading the research along with Professor Krishnan Balasubramanian for more than four years.
The technology would also bring down the cost of diagnostic evaluation and treatment in biomedicine. “Unlike expensive and radiation-prone electromagnetic (EM) wave approaches, including X-ray, it would be cost-effective and affordable. A regular X-ray machine costs over a crore, while this technology would cost Rs30-40 lakh,” said Dr Rajagopal.
Apart from proving to be an aid in existing non-invasive diagnostics, the technology will also help in industrial imaging for engineering materials, where an X-ray suffers a constraint of not being portable enough.
“This would be a super resolution ultrasound, with enhanced capabilities. The great dream is that one day we can use it for medical diagnosis and bring down the cost of diagnostic evaluation,” he said.