Researchers have developed a technology that improves the detection of tumors during radiation therapy for early stage lung cancer. It uses standard radiography machines and improves their images through a software approach.

John Roeske, PhD, and colleagues from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Illinois presented how they developed and evaluated the technology at the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)’s 56 Annual Meeting, in San Francisco, California.

Their approach uses dual-energy imaging combined with fluoroscopy to view tumors during radiation therapy. This technology does not require an x-ray that produces both high-and low-energy images. Existing hardware can be used to eliminate visuals of the ribs and other bones, making it easier to see the tumor.

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“Dual-energy imaging has been used for decades by radiologists to detect lung tumors,” said Roeske, professor and director of Radiation Physics, Department of Radiation Oncology. “When combined with fluoroscopy, the hybrid dual-energy technology can enhance the visibility of tumors to improve treatment for patients.”

The approach was called hybrid dual energy, and it was found to improve the visualization of lung tumors on fluoroscopic imaging without needing additional hardware. Its results were found to be similar to those from a fast-switching x-ray generator, and so it provides a means for real-time motion tracking of lung tumors.

Roeske and his colleagues have a patent on the technology. They report that if it becomes commercially available, their approach would provide a cost-benefit to hospitals.

“This technology does not require that hospitals replace their standard [radiography] machines since the dual-energy images are created using a software approach,” Roeske said. “The hybrid technique removes present obstacles making this a great benefit to clinicians and patients.”