The push for improved imaging is prompting research in the terahertz spectrum, where TeraView hopes to have an imager to market within three years.
Myriad factors are driving physicians to use high tech imaging systems to examine patients. Design engineers are responding by employing new spectrums for medical imaging as well as by melding more than one imaging technology into a single system.
The $6.6 billion medical imaging market will grow at 7.6 percent through 2008, according to market researchers at the Freedonia Group of Cleveland, OH. That growth will be driven by an increased demand for procedures that require imaging, a spokesman said.
TeraView Ltd. of Cambridge, United Kingdom, is employing the terahertz portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which lies between microwave and infrared, to image healthy and cancerous tissue. The terahertz spectrum is being widely researched because the rays can be focused to improve image quality and because they are less harmful than X-rays.
The TeraView scanner that’s currently being tested at a Cambridge hospital can image in 3D and distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue, improving detection rates. The company hopes to have commercial hardware within three years.
In more conventional fields, advancements in technology now make it possible to combine different technologies, trimming both scanning time and floor space requirements. Royal Philips Electronics of Andover, MA., recently began shipping its Gemini PET/CT scanner, which acquires both functional and anatomical images in one procedure. Blending positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) in one machine helps improve patient throughput.
It lets physicians image the entire body in a single scan, minimizing the chance that problems can be missed during multiple passes. This timeframe is shortened by CT attenuation correction, which shortens processing time without degrading the image. The Gemini 16 has a mobile version that can be used in multiple facilities.