NIR spectroscopy, MRI pair for challenging breast imaging

A team of Dartmouth College (Lebanon, NH) engineers and radiologists is developing a new approach that combines magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, which could benefit women whose mammogram showed an abnormality and requires further testing to rule out cancer.

Related: Technology advances breast cancer imaging

Related: Photoacoustic mammoscopy aims for safer, earlier breast cancer screening

The test would be conducted before an invasive biopsy to look for tumors. For the new method to work in routine patient care, MRI/NIR spectroscopy must adapt to an individual's body size as well as accommodate a range of cup sizes. The equipment must also mobilize and maintain contact with the breast.

An overview of the MRI/NIR spectroscopy system
An overview of the MRI/NIR spectroscopy system. The NIR spectroscopy system is housed in the MRI control room (a) and light is piped into the MRI suite for patient imaging using fiber-optic cables (b). A combined MRI/NIR spectroscopy breast coil (c) makes simultaneous MRI and NIR spectroscopy imaging possible. (Image courtesy of the Thayer School of Engineering/Dartmouth College)

The combo approach may offer specific advantages to women with dense breasts, who are more likely to develop and die from breast cancer. A dense breast is harder for a radiologist to "see through" when using traditional imaging equipment, which lacks the sensitivity to penetrate the dense tissue. Standard breast screening is effective 77–97 percent of the time in a normal breast, but when a breast is dense precision falls to 63–89 percent.

Prior approaches for MRI/NIR spectroscopy used parallel plates and relied on custom breast molds for each patient. Biomedical engineers from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth developed a new, more flexible, convenient, and comfortable approach. They designed a set of eight light-transmitting cables that can be adjusted to surround the breast with light tension. A woman lies on her stomach and the breast hangs pendant through the holes of the MRI/NIRS breast coil. The procedure is nearly identical to clinical MRI.

Eight women participated in a trial of the new design. "We found that the new interface allowed us to target lesions more effectively than ever before," says Michael Mastanduno, corresponding author of the study. "Setup time was faster and images were of higher quality."

The approach also offers increased coverage of the chest, giving providers improved visibility for "hard to see" areas, such as the outside area of the breast near the armpit.

"This work is a huge improvement on previous designs of MRI/NIRS systems. All breast sizes and lesion locations can now be effectively imaged. Though there is more work to be done, this technology is promising for improving MRI's ability to distinguish cancer from benign abnormalities," says Mastanduno.

As a next step, the researchers will test MRI/NIR spectroscopy in women with suspicious lesions.

Full details of the work appear in the journal Academic Radiology; for more information, please visit


Follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook, and join our group on LinkedIn

Subscribe now to BioOptics World magazine; it's free!

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

Optical sensor could assist with needle placement for epidurals, other procedures

A newly developed optical sensor can be embedded into an epidural needle, helping to guide the needle to the correct location.  

Multispectral method is noninvasive for imaging tissue oxygenation

A new multispectral approach for imaging tissue oxygenation could eliminate the need for surgical intervention.

Raman spectroscopy can help study blood stored in plastic blood bags

Raman spectroscopy can help study blood stored in plastic blood bags

Raman spectroscopy can monitor biochemical changes and inter-donor variability in stored red blood cell units.

Raman spectroscopy-based graphene sensor could detect viruses

Raman spectroscopy-based graphene sensor could detect viruses

A graphene sensor based on Raman spectroscopy can detect trace amounts of molecules, and could someday detect viruses.


Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...



Twitter- BioOptics World

Copyright © 2007-2016. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS