Researchers at the University of Michigan developed a treatment using precise 3D imaging technology that offers a safer and more effective way to measure and dose radiation. 

The novel treatment is a means for doctors to view data in real-time, previously unseen. By catching and magnifying small sound waves created by x-rays, radiologists can chart the radiation dose more accurately, allowing real-time treatment. 

Xueding Wang, the Jonathan Rubin Collegiate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Radiology, corresponding author of the study in Nature Biotechnology, and leader of the University of Michigan’s Optical Imaging Laboratory, said, “Once you start delivering radiation, the body is pretty much a black box. We don’t know exactly where the x-rays are hitting inside the body, and we don’t know how much radiation we’re delivering to the target. And each body is different, so making predictions for both aspects is tricky.” 

For hundreds of thousands of cancer patients, radiation is the main treatment, which blitzes a specific area of the body with extreme energy waves and particles to kill cancer cells. Though the treatment is standard, the lack of precision leaves room for improvement, as well as the increased risk of developing new cancers around the treatment area. 

Now, with 3D imaging, doctors can more precisely direct the radiation and limit the exposure of adjoining healthy tissue. The new technology can effortlessly be added to current radiation therapy equipment without modifying existing physician methods.

“In future applications, this technology can be used to personalize and adapt each radiation treatment to assure normal tissues are kept to a safe dose and that the tumor receives the dose intended. This technology would be especially beneficial in situations where the target is adjacent to radiation sensitive organs such as the small bowel or stomach,” said Kyle Cuneo, associate professor of radiation oncology at Michigan Medicine. 


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