A clinical program for mammography using synchrotron radiation (SR) in phase contrast (PhC) began in March 2006 at the SYRMEP (Synchrotron Radiation for Medical Physics) beamline of the Elettra laboratory. Up to now, 71 patients have been examined. Results show significant improvements in image quality and level of sensitivity without any increase in the delivered dose.
SYRMEP is a dedicated bending magnet beamline where the preliminary studies were carried out on phantoms and “in-vitro” breast tissue samples. The promising results obtained led to the next “in-vivo” step with the goal of studying unresolved cases selected by radiologists after routine examinations. The research plan started in planar radiology with film-screen system in phase contrast geometry. The next step is the introduction of digital detectors, both conventional and developed in-house, and the investigation of new imaging methods such as low-dose tomography and tomosynthesis. The INFN experiments by the name of PICASSO (phase imaging for clinical applications with silicon detector and synchrotron radiation) are devoted to the development of digital X-ray detectors.
A new experimental beam for medical imaging is under development at the INFN national laboratory in Frascati (Rome): the aim is to obtain a monochromatic and coherent beam by inverse Thomson back-scattering. The experiment is called BEATS2 and the Trieste team involved will be trasferring to that source the expertise acquired at Elettra.
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