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New Ultrasound Technique Detects Real-Time Changes in Tumor Response After Chemotherapy

H-scan ultrasound imaging visualizes the relative size of acoustic scatterers in tissue, shows promise in preliminary animal study for monitoring tumor response

Meeri Kim, Contributor
Thursday, October 25, 2018


A recently developed ultrasound technique called H-scan imaging can visualize the relative size of acoustic scatterers in tissue. H-scan imaging models the physics of ultrasound scattering from different tissue structures with the help of Hermite polynomials, a special class of mathematical functions that give the modality its name. It only requires digital filters to analyze the spectral content of ultrasound backscattered signals, and no new equipment.

As a preliminary test of its clinical utility, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas used H-scan ultrasound imaging to detect real-time changes in tumor response after chemotherapy in a breast cancer animal model. They compared images of both control and treated tumors over time with H-scan ultrasound. The results were published in October in the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine.

The researchers programmed an ultrasound scanner with the capability for real-time H-scan ultrasound imaging, and ran tests on phantom materials containing different mixtures of small and large acoustic scatterers. They found that the newly programmed scanner could detect changes in scatterer size and concentration.

They also imaged breast cancer-bearing mice with H-scan ultrasound at baseline and 24, 48 and 168 hours after chemotherapy injection or sham treatment. As expected, control and treatment groups showed similar H-scan results at baseline. Over the next seven days, the H-scans were able to visualize significant changes in the treatment group, specifically the shrinkage of cancer cells due to chemotherapy.

The preliminary results demonstrate that H-scan ultrasound imaging could potentially have prognostic value when monitoring patients' early tumor response to treatment.