Ultrasound breakthrough could pick up cancer earlier

A new ultrasound technique has been developed at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, which can spot cancer earlier.


It produces images that are 10 times better than current scans, which doctors say can help diagnosing whether colour images on scans are concealing a tumour.

The process works by injecting tiny bubbles into the bloodstream and scanning organs so that the blood flow can be shown with 0.05mm precision.

The patient only needs to stay for a few minutes while they are scanned. This allows images to be produced in a reasonable time.

Dr Vassilis Sboros says that the process is like being able to look inside the body with a microscope.

“Due to the super-resolution capability of our new images, we anticipate that the ability of the medical staff to pinpoint, diagnose and treat a range of cancers will be greatly enhanced.”

The method is due to begin trials in human patients soon, using existing scanning equipment.

“The limitations of current ultrasound images mean more expensive techniques like MRI are often employed for diagnosis and treatment.

“We will work to establish the usefulness of our method in the upcoming clinical study.

“We hope that further research will help expand this method to other applications in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and transplant rejection and one day biopsies may not be necessary.”


Text references 

Macdonald, K – BBC News. (2019). Ultrasound breakthrough ‘can spot cancer earlier’. Accessible: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-49870017. Last Accessed: 3 October 2019.

Press Association, (2019). New ultrasound technology ‘could pick up far more cases of cancer’. Accessible: https://home.bt.com/news/science-news/new-ultrasound-technology-could-pick-up-far-more-cases-of-cancer-11364398763821. Last Accessed: 1 October 2019.