OCT 29, 2021 10:30 AM PDT

New "Dark-Field" X-ray Technology Improves Diagnostic Abilities for Pulmonary Conditions

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

We’re all familiar with x-rays—they’re a staple in diagnostic technology. The use of x-rays for medical and diagnostic purposes was first discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen and used shortly thereafter for locating bullets and shrapnel in wounded soldiers. His work won him a Nobel Prize.

However, x-rays have their own limitations. In conventional methods, images are produced by the scattering of rays when they hit tissue. That’s why many areas around the lungs, for example, remain dark: there’s nothing for the waves to scatter against.

To overcome some of these limitations, researchers have implemented a method called “dark field x-rays.” This method was employed specifically to diagnose pulmonary conditions earlier than conventional x-ray methods while using a fraction of the radiation typically used in x-rays.

Dark field x-rays are not an entirely new technology, and have been shown to offer some benefits compared to typical methods. Conventional x-rays operate by looking at the reduction in x-ray intensity as they pass through the body. According to previous research, however, dark field x-ray technology takes advantage of the x-ray’s wave properties, and is especially effective in lung imaging because these waves have a “relatively high signal in the lungs due to the many air-tissue interfaces in the alveoli.” This new approach allows researchers to see structures in the body that would have otherwise been transparent or invisible in traditional methods. 

In a clinical study reported in Lancet Digital Health, researchers employed dark-field x-rays to study patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition characterized by changes to alveoli. Monitoring changes to alveoli, and distinguishing between healthy and diseased lung tissue, is next to impossible for conventional x-ray techniques. Seventy seven patients underwent a series of conventional and dark field x-ray imaging as well as pulmonary function tests. Overall findings found that dark-field x-rays could effectively diagnose pulmonary emphysema and enable clearer pictures of a patient’s lung structure.

In addition to offering a more effective imaging technique, dark field x-rays also require significantly less exposure to radiation. Conventional x-ray technology usually requires multiple images from different angles, increasing radiation exposure. Based on the technique developed by researchers, only one image/exposure is needed.

Sources: Eureka Alert!; Radiology; Lancet Digital Health

About the Author
  • Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
NOV 15, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Injectable Therapy Reverses Paralysis within 4 Weeks
NOV 15, 2021
Injectable Therapy Reverses Paralysis within 4 Weeks
Researchers have developed an injectable therapy that can repair tissue damage and reverse paralysis in mice within four ...
NOV 30, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Enabling new levels of quantification with the SCIEX 7500 system - powered by SCIEX OS Software
NOV 30, 2021
Enabling new levels of quantification with the SCIEX 7500 system - powered by SCIEX OS Software
Sensitivity is a fundamental performance characteristic of a mass spectrometer The SCIEX 7500 system is enabling new lev ...
NOV 30, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Ultrathin Bone Computer Tracks Healing
NOV 30, 2021
Ultrathin Bone Computer Tracks Healing
What’s as small as a penny, as thin as a sheet of paper, and monitors how bones are healing? A new wireless &lsquo ...
NOV 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Perseverance Captures Challenges Faced by Helicopter on Mars
NOV 30, 2021
Perseverance Captures Challenges Faced by Helicopter on Mars
The Perseverance rover has captured footage of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter while it was completing its thirteen flight ...
DEC 11, 2021
Technology
Machine Learning Could Predict Timely Sepsis Treatments, Save Lives
DEC 11, 2021
Machine Learning Could Predict Timely Sepsis Treatments, Save Lives
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that takes the lives of almost a quarter of a million people each year. Able to p ...
DEC 28, 2021
Technology
The World's Longest Rechargeable Battery
DEC 28, 2021
The World's Longest Rechargeable Battery
Flexible, rechargeable batteries have a range of uses, with the potential to improve the function of a range of products ...
Loading Comments...