Frontemare di Trieste
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare
Sezione di Trieste



The development of 3D techniques in radiology has led to a radical change in diagnostic imaging. Recently, several three-dimensional techniques (magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, tomosynthesis and tomography) have shown great potential in the field of early detection of breast cancer.

Phase contrast imaging with synchrotron radiation is an important test for developments in breast tomography (Breast-CT). The monochromatic beam allows the energetic optimization of X-rays obtaining a dose reduction. Moreover, the spatial coherence of the synchrotron radiation beam allows to exploit the phase contrast effects, improving the image quality.

The goal of SYRMA-3D is the development of the Breast-CT system realized at the SYRMEP (Synchrotron Radiation for Medical Physics) beamline at Elettra in the frame of the previous SYRMA-CT project. In particular, SYRMA-3D addresses the issues related to the acquisition of the clinical examination, including the patient safety and movement system, and the clinical data processing and storage system.

Fundamental to this purpose is the integration of the knowledge and skills gained in the SYRMA-CT collaboration with those acquired at Elettra during the clinical mammography study. The clinical interest is strengthened by the installation of a brand new breast tomosynthesis system and a 3T magnetic resonance imaging system at the Azienda Sanitaria Universitaria Integrata di Trieste. The clinical study will therefore be carried out in a highly specialized context and the comparison between the various techniques can take place at the highest levels. It should be noted that the Interdepartmental Functional Unit of Breast Pathology of Trieste is a reference center for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and has obtained the coveted European EUSOMA certification; morevoer the same hospital which hosts the Breast Unit is internationally certified as Academic Medical Centre Hospital.

The SYRMA-3D project uses the Pixirad-8 detector, a photon counting detector with optimal performances in terms of efficiency and resolution, with sensitive area appropriate to the geometry of the SYRMEP beam.

Experiment scheme

Partecipant INFN sections: TS, PI, CA, NA, and FE.

Collaborators: Elettra, Azienda Universitaria Integrata di Trieste.

Objective: to allow the start of the clinical study of phase-contrast mammary tomography with synchrotron radiation towards the end of 2018.

The research and development activities concern the realtime control system of the radiological acquisition, with particular attention to the integration of the detector and the safety system that must interrupt the irradiation of the patient in case of any malfunction that makes the acquired data unusable or that implies too high a dose level.

Another important aspect of research and development is the processing and storage system of the acquired images. The system must be intrinsically safe, user friendly, and must provide two different modes of reconstruction: a quick one (for immediate verification of the correct execution of the exam, but not intended for reporting) and a second one (which may also require a longer processing time), in which the radiologist, during the reporting phase, will have the possibility to optimize the parameters of the reconstruction.

Work Packages

The work program is divided into work packages, which are briefly listed in the following:

  • WP1: Coordination.
  • WP2: Protocol, examination management and facility adjustment to Elettra.
  • WP3: Pixirad-8 detector optimization and reconstruction algorithms.
  • WP4: Quality Controls and Dosimetry.
  • WP5: Clinical and radiological evaluation.



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