A 3D medical imaging SME, Adaptix, is developing an innovative new technology which could revolutionise medical imaging.
3D imaging for disease or trauma often relies on expensive CT scans, which deliver large radiation doses. Cheaper X-ray techniques only produce 2D scans. Adaptix has developed a solution to the combined shortcomings of existing technologies: a novel X-ray source that allows a low-cost, truly portable 3D scans.
The innovation is a flat panel X-ray source. It takes multiple low dose X-rays and uses algorithms to turn data from the many ray paths into a 3D image, a technique known as 'Digital Tomosynthesis' (DT). This provides better clinical insight than 2D imaging, but using a fraction of the radiation of CT scans.
A novel aspect of the panel is the grid of cold cathode field emitters – an array of tips which each generate a controlled X-ray. Many emitters can be packed onto a single panel allowing multiple simultaneous X-rays.
This is the first time a two-dimensional array of cold cathodes has been used for medical X-rays; other devices use bulky X-ray tubes. Adaptix compares this advance to moving from cathode ray tube TVs to flat screens.
The X-ray emissions need to be highly uniform in order to build a reliable 3D image. The emitters also need to meet durability requirements mandated for clinical use. Investigation revealed inconsistencies in the emitter tips, compromising both of these requirements.