Project: Research project

Project Details


It has long been known that malignant tumors are often characterized
by substantially different mechanical properties than surrounding
normal tissue. This accounts for the efficacy of palpation as a
clinical technique to detect cancer in accessible regions of the
body. Indeed, most tumors of the thyroid, breast, and prostate are
still first detected by this centuries-old diagnostic technique.
Unfortunately, small or inaccessible lesions cannot be detected by
touch, and conventional diagnostic imaging methods such as
ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI) do not provide information that is in any way analogous.

The goal of this proposal is to develop and validate a diagnostic
imaging technique for quantitatively delineating mechanical
properties of tissues. The proposed technique applies mechanical
waves to tissue and measures regional elasticity by analyzing the
pattern of wave propagation. A critical component of this new
technique is a recently-developed method for directly observing
propagating acoustic waves in tissue, using an MRI sequence with
synchronous motion-sensitizing gradients. The central hypothesis of
this work is that the proposed technique can be successfully
implemented as a clinical tool and that it will be useful for
detecting and characterizing focal and diffuse disease processes
that may be difficult to investigate by other methods.

The research plan includes investigations in the following areas (I)
improving the MR acoustic wave imaging sequence, (2) developing
effective methods for applying acoustic waves to tissue, (3)
refining the required image processing methods, (4) studying the
potential of the technique for tissue characterization, and (5)
implementing the technique in human studies. The methods will
encompass theoretical work, basic MRI pulse sequence development,
device engineering, studies of animal and human tissue specimens,
and trials with normal and patient volunteer's, special emphasis on
optimizing the technique for breast cancer detection.

If the research is successful, it will yield a new diagnostic
imaging tool that may: (I) provide a means to noninvasively "palpate
by imaging" regions of the body that are beyond the reach of the
physician's hand, (2) delineate tumors before they are large enough
to detect by touch, (3) provide greater sensitivity for assessing
changes in tissue elasticity, and (4) provide a useful new
quantitative tool for characterizing tissue.
Effective start/end date7/5/975/31/03


  • National Cancer Institute: $302,357.00
  • National Cancer Institute: $295,954.00
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Cancer Institute
  • National Cancer Institute


  • Medicine(all)


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