A groundbreaking new imaging technique helped in offering 3D images of whole organs in unprecedented detail. For this researchers used X-rays generated by a cutting-edge particle accelerator.
This new technology is called Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT). This X-ray technique allows 3D mapping across a range of scales. It helps clinicians to view the whole organ down to a resolution of 1 micron. This resolution is equivalent to about 100 times the resolution of a conventional CT scan.
To generate this, researchers utilized the brightest source of X-rays in the world. It helped in generating the results about 100 billion times brighter than a hospital X-ray. As a result, researchers can also view blood vessels that are just five microns in diameter. That is almost a tenth of the diameter of a strand of hair.
Recently, researchers imaged the lung of a deceased COVID-19 patient using this technique
As a result, they were able to disclose novel insights into how the disease disrupts blood oxygenation.
Dr. Claire Walsh (UCL Mechanical Engineering) said: “The ability to see organs across scales like this will really be revolutionary for medical imaging. As we start to link our HiP-CT images to clinical images through AI techniques, we will — for the first time — be able to highly accurately validate ambiguous findings in clinical images. For understanding human anatomy this is also a very exciting technique, being able to see tiny organ structures in 3D in their correct spatial context is key to understanding how our bodies are structured and how they therefore function.
Danny Jonigk, Professor of Thoracic Pathology, (Hannover Medical School, Germany) said “By combining our molecular methods with the HiP-CT multiscale imaging in lungs affected by COVID-19 pneumonia, we gained a new understanding how shunting between blood vessels in a lung’s two vascular systems occurs in Covid-19 injured lungs, and the impact it has on oxygen levels in our circulatory system.”