Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Scientists perform first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human

Scientists perform first-ever 3-D, colour X-ray on a human

The images produced by their invention are clearer and more accurate than x-ray technologies now available.

Scientists from New Zealand recently performed the first-ever 3-D, color X-ray on a human being.

This allows for high-contrast, high-resolution pictures to be produced at a quick rate. They were originally created to track particles accurately at the Large Hadron Collider and, due to their precision, have shown enormous potential in medicine. The electromagnetic radiation has a shorter wavelength as compared to visible light, so it would pass soft tissues easily but failed to pass through harder elements like bones. This enhanced technology should help doctors to make a much more accurate diagnosis for each of their patients who have been scanned with the 3D color x-ray scanner.

This is where the new scanner developed by Phil Butler and his son Anthony comes in. The Medipix3 chip is now the most advanced chip available.

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The Butlers applied the Medipix3 technology used by the European Organization for Nuclear Research in the hunt for the "God particle" or the Higgs boson.

The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. The Medipix3 detector, however, "is able to measure how specific energies of X-rays are being attenuated" and can differentiate between bone, muscle, metal, fats and liquid. Philip said the technology sets the MARS scanner apart because it produces images no other x-ray machine tool can achieve. As this happens, a sophisticated algorithm uses that information to produce a 3D image with different colors representing different materials scanned. In the case of the 3D scanner, a license agreement has been established between CERN, on behalf of Medipix3 collaboration and MARS Bioimaging Ltd.

Anthony mentioned that researchers are now using a smaller version of the MARS scanner to study cancer and other vascular diseases. It produces images with improved diagnostic information and will enable doctors to offer the best advice on treatment options.

In the coming months, orthopaedic and rheumatology patients in New Zealand will be scanned by the revolutionary MARS scanner in a clinical trial that is a world first, paving the way to a potentially routine use of this new generation equipment.

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