Washington, Nov 12 : The world's first radar breast imaging system, developed by scientists at Bristol University, may revolutionise the way women are scanned for breast cancer.
The system is being tested at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT).
Professor Alan Preece and Dr Ian Craddock from the University of Bristol have been working for a number of years to develop a breast-imaging device, which uses radio waves and therefore has no radiation risk unlike conventional mammograms.
"This new imaging technique works by transmitting radio waves of a very low energy and detecting reflected signals, it then uses these signals to make a 3D image of the breast. This is basically the same as any radar system, such as the radars used for air traffic control at our airports," Craddock from the University's Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, as saying.
Mike Shere, Associate Specialist Breast Clinician at NBT, added: "It takes less time to operate than a mammogram approximately six minutes for both breasts compared with 30-45 minutes for an MRI, and like an MRI it provides a very detailed 3D digital image.
The radar breast imaging system is built using transmitters and receivers arranged around a ceramic cup, which the breast sits in. These transmitters view the breast from several different angles.
In the initial stages of the study, the team used mammogram images to compare similar abnormalities in the new 3D image produced from the radio breast imaging system.
Preece from the University's Medical Physics, said: "I started off looking at breast tumour imaging in 1990 using a hand held scanner similar to ultrasound however it did not have enough sensitivity and that's when I got to know some people in engineering and together we approached the EPSRC to help.
"Using this engineering knowledge we built the machine using ground penetrating radar, a similar technique to land mine detection to take four hundred quarter of a second pictures of the breast to form a 3D image.
"Women do not feel any sensation and it equates to the same type of radiation exposure as speaking into a mobile phone at arms length which makes it much safer.
" We are constantly learning and adapting and it has been particularly easy to work with NBT, we have seen some very promising results so far," Preece added.