Researchers at Bristol University have developed a breast imaging system that uses radio waves to look for dense spots within tissue. Unlike mammography, the new system avoids the harmful effects posed by x-ray radiation.
The radar breast imaging system is built using transmitters and receivers arranged around a ceramic cup, which the breast sits in. These transmitters view the breast from several different angles.
In the initial stages of the study the team used mammogram images to compare similar abnormalities in the new 3D image produced from the radio breast imaging system.
Professor Preece from the University’s Medical Physics, said: "I started off looking at breast tumour imaging in 1990 using a hand held scanner similar to ultrasound however it did not have enough sensitivity and that’s when I got to know some people in engineering and together we approached the EPSRC to help.
"Using this engineering knowledge we built the machine using ground penetrating radar, a similar technique to land mine detection to take four hundred quarter of a second pictures of the breast to form a 3D image.
"Women do not feel any sensation and it equates to the same type of radiation exposure as speaking into a mobile phone at arms length which makes it much safer.
Mike Shere, Associate Specialist Breast Clinician at NBT, added: "Currently women are diagnosed in three ways: firstly by a clinician then by using imaging such as mammography and ultrasound and lastly by a needle biopsy.
"The radar breast imaging system came to Frenchay in September this year and so far around 60 women have been examined using it.
"It takes less time to operate than a mammogram approximately six minutes for both breasts compared with 30-45 minutes for an MRI, and like an MRI it provides a very detailed 3D digital image.
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