A revolutionary way of targeting breast cancer tumours has been developed by the Department of Engineering's Medical Imaging group led by Dr Andrew Gee, Dr Richard Prager and Dr Graham Treece and Cross Technologies PLC, producers of radiotherapy and x-ray imaging equipment.
The Stradwin three-dimensional ultrasound system, developed by the Medical Imaging Group, uses cameras to track the motion of an ultrasound probe, leading to a three-dimensional model of the tumour site for radiotherapy planning. Qados (a division of Cross Technologies PLC) is incorporating Stradwin technology with its own Osiris system to create Orpheus, a novel radiotherapy planning system that combines information from both laser surface scanning and three-dimensional ultrasonic imaging. The result is more accurate targeting of the tumour site, allowing reduced radiation doses with fewer side effects.
The Royal Marsden Hospital, the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, has already bought the Orpheus system and it is currently being installed there.
The Medical Imaging Group here at the Department has been working in the field of ultrasonic imaging since 1992 in close collaboration with the Department of Radiology at Addenbrooke's Hospital. They have had several important breakthroughs over the years:
2003: Developed the world's highest resolution freehand three-dimensional ultrasound system. This was achieved through novel approaches to calibration, correction of probe-pressure artifacts and a revolutionary "voxel free" structure for the system as a whole.
2004: Stradx freehand three-dimensional ultrasound system used in clinical applications, including discovery of hitherto unknown details of the anatomy of the brachial plexus. The research registrar won a best paper prize from the European Society for Regional Anaesthesia.
2005: Licensed the Stradwin freehand three-dimensional ultrasound system to Cross Technologies PLC for use in radiotherapy planning.
2006: Built a revolutionary hybrid freehand/mechanically-swept real-time radio-frequency three-dimensional ultrasound acquisition system, already in demand by other research groups.
2006: Developed unique high-performance algorithms for strain imaging (elastography). Strain images show the elastic properties of tissue. This can be important as, for instance, malignant lesions are often stiffer than their surroundings. The Medical Imaging Group has recently produced new algorithms that beat current commercial and academic competitors, leading to two patent applications.
The Stradx system has been available on the web since 1997. It is focused on the requirements of engineering research. Stradwin, which provides a simpler user interface aimed at clinicians (and runs under Windows), was first released on the web in November 2004.