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New Ultrasound Technique Could Help Diagnose Diseases More Easily

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 14 Mar 2023
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Image: A new ultrasound method could lead to easier disease diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: A new ultrasound method could lead to easier disease diagnosis (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Measuring tension in living tissue can provide insight into its proper functioning or disease status. Ultrasound uses sound waves to capture images of human organs but current ultrasound techniques often fall short in diagnosing abnormalities in tissue. Previous ultrasound methods have struggled to differentiate between stiff tissue and tissue under tension. Now, a new ultrasound method is capable of measuring tension in human tissue for the first time. This advancement can lead to the development of cutting-edge ultrasound machines that can better detect cancer, scarring, and tissue abnormalities.

To improve the diagnosis of abnormal tissues, researchers from the University of Sheffield (Sheffield, UK) have developed a method for measuring forces such as tension using an ultrasound machine. The research team leveraged a technique from a rail project at the University of Sheffield that utilizes sound waves to measure tension along railway lines. The same concept is applied in both railway and medical ultrasound - the greater the tension, the faster sound waves propagate. Building upon this principle, the researchers created a novel method that generates two sound waves in opposite directions. Using mathematical theories developed by the researchers, the tension is then related to the speed of the waves. This methodology marks the world's first approach for measuring tension in any type of soft tissue - without any prior knowledge of it.

“When you go to the hospital, a doctor might use an ultrasound device to create an image of an organ, such as your liver, or another part of your body, such as the gut, to help them explore what the cause of a problem might be. One of the limitations of ultrasounds used in healthcare now is that the image alone is not enough to diagnose whether any of your tissues are abnormal,” explained Dr. Artur Gower, Lecturer in Dynamics at the University of Sheffield who made the breakthrough. “What we’ve done in our research is develop a new way of using ultrasound to measure the level of tension in tissue. This level of detail can tell us whether tissues are abnormal or if they are affected by scarring or disease. This technique is the first time that ultrasound can be used to measure forces inside tissue, and it could now be used to build new ultrasound machines capable of diagnosing abnormal tissue and disease earlier.”

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