First color X-ray inspection on the human body

12 2018 by MARS Bioimaging Ltd shows a 3D image of left view of an ankle with bones in white and soft tissue in red. — AFP pic

The new MARS spectral x-ray scanner uses an imaging technology developed at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and produces sophisticated images showcasing everything lying under your skin marked with different colors.

This allows for high-resolution, high-contrast pictures.

"So far researchers have been using a small version of the MARS scanner to study cancer, bone and joint health, and vascular diseases that cause heart attacks and strokes, "Anthony Butler, a radiologist at the Universities of Otago and Canterbury, said in a press release".

The CERN technology, dubbed Medipix, works like a camera detecting and counting individual sub-atomic particles as they collide with pixels while its shutter is open. The dense material absorbs some of those rays and appears in white in the resulting image, while the remaining rays pass through softer tissues and muscles and appear as solid black.

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Phil Butler's wrist and wristwatch, as seen by the MARS scanner.

The color X-ray technology, which could help improve the field of medical diagnostics, utilizes particle-tracking technology developed for CERN's Large Hadron Collider. This enhanced technology should help doctors to make a much more accurate diagnosis for each of their patients who have been scanned with the 3D color x-ray scanner. The latter together with more than 20 research institutes forms the third generation of Medipix collaboration.

"The image of this new image can not be obtained with other image tools due to the small pixels and specific energy resolution of the machine", said Phill Butler, a student of University of Canterbury. MBI works closely with customers to provide a wide range of spectral imaging solutions for applications ranging from cancer detection to development of novel contrast agents. The Medipix3 detector, however, "is able to measure how specific energies of X-rays are being attenuated" and can differentiate between bone, muscle, metal, fats and liquid. "The Medipix collaborations have adapted the technology to create new detectors which fundamentally change how x-ray images are taken and used". For now, the father-son team plans to test their scanner in a trial focused on orthopedic and rheumatology patients in New Zealand, though it will likely be years before the technology is approved for widespread use.

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