Tzu-Chieh Chou, PhD; Kevin Tze-Hsiang Chen, PhD
Competition Sponsor: Academia Sinica of Taiwan
The project aims to augment ultrasound scanners with a new imaging method to differentiate biological tissues based on their electromagnetic properties. For example, the augmented scanner can generate a heat map of electrical conductivity inside the abdominal cavity where hepatic tumors are highlighted and overlapped on top of conventional B-mode ultrasound images. The “”combo”” imaging technique brings new opportunities to diagnose liver cancer in elderly patients and is expected to improve the current 5-year relative survival rate of 34% for localized tumors according to a previous study.
The proposed imaging method simply requires an ultrasound transducer, an external coil, and a circuit board for direct image reconstruction. The simple construction of the system allows it to be integrated into commercial ultrasound scanners, similar to the Doppler ultrasonography used in imaging the blood flow inside the cardiovascular system. Therefore, it has advantages including low construction cost, high portability, and real-time image display.
The first proof of concept will be demonstrated through benchtop experiments on organ phantoms consisting of normal and disease states with corresponding changes in electrical conductivity. For example, a liver tumor phantom has a conductivity value higher than a healthy liver and is comparable to hepatic tumor biopsy samples. The next step will be collaborating with doctors for animal model experiments and human trials.