The general field of the research in our lab is the development of novel
systems for medical imaging. Of particular interest are imaging systems
utilizing x-rays (i.e. radiography, x-ray tomosynthesis, x-ray computed
tomography (CT)) and/or nuclear medicine (i.e. scintigraphy, gamma ray
emission tomosynthesis, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT),
and positron emission computed tomography (PET)). In recent years we have
focused on the development of multimodal hybrid systems that integrate
anatomic and functional image sets. Current application areas include breast
cancer detection and characterization, intraoperative image guidance, and
pre-clinical in vivo imaging. The following projects are ongoing.
1) Dual modality tomographic breast imaging: We have developed a hybrid
scanner for integrated dual modality (structural/functional) breast imaging.
The scanner obtains co-registered 3-dimensional digital x-ray tomography
(limited angle CT) and gamma emission scintigraphy (limited angle SPECT)
images. Human studies evaluating the efficacy of the scanner for
non-invasive characterization of suspicious breast lesions are underway.
2) Intraoperative multimodal image guidance: Intra-operative techniques
utilizing compact gamma cameras along with visible and near infrared
fluorescence video cameras are being developed to provide real-time
visualization of tumors and lymph nodes during surgery. The imaging system
will be combined with multimodal imaging probes to guide surgeons to the
target and permit visualization of its extent during excision.
3) Image-guided surgery of non-palpable breast lesions: We are using both
pre-operative imaging and intra-operative imaging techniques. Multi-modality
pre-operative imaging is used to place small markers labeled with a
radioisotope at target locations (i.e. the center of the tumor) and to
verify its location relative to the target. The radiomarkers are tracked
intraoperatively using a hand-held gamma probe and/or a compact mobile gamma
camera. The technique is being evaluated in human studies as an alternative
to wire localization.
4) Molecular imaging for small animal research: We are developing scanners
for non-invasive imaging of rodents in medical research. High resolution
microCT (computed x-ray tomography) and microSPECT (single photon emission
computed tomography) scanners have been developed. We are currently working
with Stellar Micro Devices (Austin, TX) on the development of a new type of
ultra-fast microCT scanner that employs arrays of rapidly addressable field
emission x-ray sources.