Follow us on Facebook

Research Area C.2

Dual-Energy CT image of the thorax of a patient with lung fibrosis and left-sided transplanted lung showing restricted ventilation using inhaled xenon gas as contrast (A), and decreased blood perfusion using iodine as contrast (B) in the transplanted lung (left) - providing relevant pathophysiological information. (Johnson, unpublished)

Preclinical and clinical imaging

Two aspects of phase-contrast imaging (PCI) endow it with the potential to revolutionise modern X-ray-based diagnostics. Firstly, it may allow enhancing soft-tissue contrast - one major barrier in X-ray-based computer tomography (CT) imaging today. Secondly, it may allow a significant reduction of diagnostic radiation dose to which patients are exposed - a growing problem in ageing western societies. 

In the initial funding period, we were able to demonstrate the feasibility of phase-contrast imaging to depict diagnostically relevant details of osteoarthritic (OA) cartilage and characterise structural aspects of cancerous breast tissue in an experimental set-up in vitro.

Given technological developments within the cluster we now propose to advance these two applications to a pre-clinical stage and to further determine the potential diagnostic value of phase-contrast imaging in other major clinical settings. Our overarching aim is to identify clinical scenarios in which PCI can improve patient management.

There is a narrow window of opportunity to cooperatively develop and implement a technique, which will provide high soft-tissue resolution and unique tissue characterisation at decreased radiation burden. Such a technique will revolutionise patient care for various disease states. Thus, the major objectives for the application period 2012-2017 are to advance the technique from in vitro experiments to a preclinical, in vivo animal setting to identify other potential clinical indications and to help the technical developers to optimise the technique for clinical applications. 

Main objectives for 2012-2017:

a) Establishment and validation of a PCI setup for small animal models made available to test diseasemodifying therapeutic strategies in osteoarthritis (OA) using synchrotron and CALA compact X-ray sources

b) Development and optimisation of a grating-based PCI setup for breast-CT and tomosynthesis at the compact synchrotron source BRIX at CALA and determine its feasibility for early breast cancer detection in comparison with established imaging modalities

c) Optimisation of the technical set-up and determination of the feasibility of grating-based PCI, using laboratory X-ray tubes and new compact X-ray sources for characterising diffuse lung diseases in animal models

d) Optimisation of the technical set-up and determination of the feasibility of grating-based PCI for vessel wall visualisation and identification of inflammatory and atherosclerotic vessel wall changes

e) Investigation of the potential of different classes of contrast media for phase contrast imaging, conduct preliminary ex vivo and in vivo animal experiments and to develop adequate concepts for tumour perfusion imaging

f) Exploration and optimisation of the feasibility of multispectral imaging using brilliant X-ray sources for biomaterial decomposition, achieving higher diagnostic accuracy without redundant radiation exposure and to identify novel clinical applications

Deputy coordinators