Dec. 3, 1998 CHICAGO -- Researchers at the University at Buffalo's Toshiba Stroke Research Center have developed a prototype camera that can turn blurred X-ray images of brain stents made of thin wire into images clear enough to detect the condition of wire as fine as a hair.
The development marks the first use of this technology, called a high-resolution region-of-interest microangiographic digital detector, for viewing devices, called stents, placed inside blood vessels in the brain. The stents can prevent stroke by shoring up weak spots in arteries or blocking off aneurysms.
The UB prototype provides images that are significantly clearer than can be produced by any current system, and may allow the viewing of even the tiniest blood vessels in the circulation system, Stephen Rudin, Ph.D., UB professor of radiology and physics, reported here today (Dec. 2, 1998). The prototype and its image-enhancing capabilities were introduced by him at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
Rudin heads a research group composed primarily of physicists within the Toshiba Stroke Research Center, an interdisciplinary research effort involving UB neurosurgeons, engineers, physicists, biophysicists and radiologists.
Scientists at the Toshiba Stroke Research Center are in the forefront of research into intravascular treatments for stroke and other circulation-related disorders of the brain. Intravascular interventions use the body's circulation system as a tunnel to the brain. Neurosurgeons or neuroradiologists thread micro-thin instruments through the large artery in the groin until they reach the damaged area. This approach avoids the need to open the skull.
Having clear X-ray images of the vessels and instruments is critical to reaching the repair site without damaging vessels along the way.
"Even with the most advanced imaging equipment available at present, we weren't seeing features we knew existed," Rudin said. "We expect this detector prototype to help us locate the
stent optimally in the vessel, visualize its integrity in place and reposition it if necessary. If you can't see exactly what condition the stent is in when it's deployed, it's not possible to change the deployment.
"The detector technology is similar to that being introduced now in mammography," he said. "In mammography, the site being viewed is static. We are developing the technology so it can be used in rapid-sequence imaging at that very high resolution."
Rudin said this enhanced imaging capability should allow viewing of vessels as small as the 50-200-micron ones at the very end of the circulation system of the brain, called perforators, which cannot be seen at all with conventional imaging equipment.
"Without this new capability, we would have difficulty treating aneurysms that were near these vessels because we cannot see well enough to avoid damaging the very small healthy perforators."
The research was funded by the U.S. Army and the Toshiba Stroke Research Center. Additional members of the research team are Ajay Wakhloo, M.D., and Daniel Bednarek, Ph.D., both associate professors in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and Chang-Ying J. Yang and William E. Granger, doctoral candidates.
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