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Researchers Explore New Technology for Pediatric Neuroimaging

Nov 14, 2017

Some promising research at Washington University in St. Louis could lead to a novel form of diagnostic imaging. Developed for use on children’s brains, the experimental technique uses photoacoustic computed tomography, a hybrid imaging system that combines optical and ultrasound imaging.

Called PACT, light pulses are sent into the tissue where they deposit energy that is converted into sound waves. Then, mathematical computations create images of brain anatomy. The new technique will provide precise diagnostic information without the use of ionizing radiation or even requiring children to stay perfectly still.

“Children don’t stay still; they move a lot, and this is a problem when you’re trying to image them,” said Mark Anastasio, professor of biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, in a news release. “We need to design this system so that the data can be acquired quickly, and also account for movement. So that if the child does shift, we can track that motion and correct for it in the image reconstruction.”

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded Anastasio and his team a five-year, $2.96 million grant to develop the novel imaging approach. After the imaging device and the corresponding software are developed, they plan to conduct a small clinical trial to evaluate the technology with a pediatric neurosurgeon.

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